Impressed with their latest victory, Perpetual Help coach Jimwell Gican jokingly impersonated to be a scribe during the post-match interview, with Altas’ Nigerian center Bright Akhuetie and top local Gab Dagangon as his main interviewees.
Gican has plenty of reasons to be very pleased these days and he’s just doubly eager to relish those.
Showing no signs of slowing down, Perpetual Help handled fellow contender Mapua with ease on Thursday, coasting to a masterful 71-51 victory while tightening its hold on the second spot in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
Playing for the second time in three days, the Altas showed up sharper on both ends against the slow-starting Cardinals, limiting their rivals to just eight points in the first canto that enabled them to turn what was expected a tight battle into a one-sided affair that left Gican beaming no end.
“We’re so happy with the performance of our team. Nagbunga rin ‘yung mga paghihirap at sakripisyo namin,” he said, referring to their impressive win, their fifth straight and seventh overall in nine starts, pulling them closer to pace-setting San Beda, still undefeated in seven matches.
Dagangon came through with second straight double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds while the 6-foot-7 Akhuetie helped put the clamps down on Cardinals star center, reigning league MVP Allwell Oraeme, while collecting 11 markers and 12 boards for the Altas, who led by as many as 23 points.
“Sobrang ganda. Ito talaga ang gusto naming mangyari,” added Gican, very satisfied with how his charges made life miserable for their rivals all game long, with the Cardinals scoring just 18 points in the first half before finishing with an atrocious 21-of-69 (30.4 percent) shooting from the field.
“Nasunod ‘yung gameplan namin especially on defese. ‘Pag depensa ang nauuna, susunod naman ang offense namin. Sa defense kasi ang mindset namin kaya ang ganda ng outcome,” added Gican.
The Cardinals suffered their second straight loss and third overall in eight matches, slipping down to fifth spot.
And Mapua’s recent setback typified how important the 6-foot-9 Oraeme is.
Groping for form against the Altas’ stymieing defense, led by Akhuetie, his fellow Nigerian, Oraeme came up with just six points on nine attempts and 13 rebounds, a far cry from his solid averages of 17.7 markers and 19.3 boards on his first six games this year.
Darell Menina was the lone Cardinal to score in double figures with 13. – By Jerome Lagunzad
UPHSD (71) – Dagangong 20, Akhuetie 11, Singontiko 10, Coronel 9, Pido 8, Eze 5, Hao 4, Dizon 4, Sadiwa 0, Oliveria 0, Gallardo 0, Yuhico 0.
MIT (51) – Menina 13, Estrella 8, Aguirre 8, Biteng 7, Oraeme 6, Bunag 4, Victoria 2, Eriobu 2, Serrano 1, Orquina 0, Raflores 0, Dela Rosa 0.
Quarterscores: 15-8, 34-18, 48-34, 71-51.