MANILA, Philippines — Harold Arboleda sank four pressure-packed free throws down the stretch as Perpetual Help edged Arellano, 82-80, in the NCAA Season 89 men’s basketball tournament Monday at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Arboleda provided the final points for the Altas, who tied defending champion San Beda in second place at 8-2, as he calmly made a pair of freebies with 6.3 seconds left.
“Nung huli sinipagan ko talaga. Lagi lang talagang sinasabi nila coach na walang bibigay. Yung free throws wala namang pressure, nag-shooting talaga ako nung practice,” said the fourth year forward Arboleda, who is third in the MVP race after the first round.
The six-foot-two Arboleda was at the right place at the right time in the waning seconds. He was underneath the basket as Nosa Omorogbe attempted an airball from the left wing for the offensive rebound before being sent to the line on a foul by Ralph Salcedo.
“Lahat ng games mahirap pero kailangan ko ng mga ganong experiences para lalong tumibay loob nila,” said Perpetual head coach Aric del Rosario.
Omorogbe led Perpetual Help, which failed to sustain seven-point leads on two occasions in the fourth quarter, with 26 points, 19 in the first half, to go along with 12 rebounds.
Flashy guard Junerice Baloria, the league-leader in scoring, carried the Altas in the fourth quarter with 10 points. He finished with 16.
The shorthanded Chiefs, who were without their team captain James Forrester, had the chance to tie the game with less than a second left but Adam Serjue came up empty at the line.
Serjue intentionally missed his second free throw but Arellano, which dropped to 3-7, could not get to the ball as time ran out.
Earl Thompson, who is playing through a lower back injury, came away with 11 points as he formed a lethal duo with Baloria on the perimeter.
Keith Agovida paced Perpetual Help with 17 points while Levi Hernandez added 16.