Resurgent Altas seek solo lead vs Bombers todayBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
ALL THOSE losing seasons in the past few years seemed to have galvanized the Perpetual Help Altas this time.
The surprising Altas look to extend their impressive start as they take on the Jose Rizal U Heavy Bombers today in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Off to their best five-game start in eight seasons, the Altas (4-1) bid for the solo lead at 6 p.m. against the Bombers, who share third place with the San Sebastian Stags at 3-1.
“They are responding to the challenge,” said returning Altas coach Aric del Rosario, who has been largely credited for Perpetual Help’s resurgence.
“They’re hungry. They don’t want to go back to where they used to be.”
San Sebastian battles Lyceum in the first game at 4 p.m.
On a three-game roll, the Stags can tie idle San Beda for second with a victory over the Pirates, who have won two of their last three outings.
The Stags have been consistently getting big performances from Calvin Abueva, who is averaging a remarkable 19.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists.
Ronald Pascual has blown hot-and-cold for the Stags as he recovers from a knee injury that sidelined him for six months.
Pascual went scoreless in two of the first three games, but fired 26 points in the 101-78 rout of the Bombers last July 12.
The Pirates came out flat and yielded to the hot-shooting Arellano Chiefs, 52-83, recently.
Ominously, Perpetual Help has beaten two of last season’s Final Four squads with the game against the Bombers concluding their toughest stretch in the first round.
Swingman Earl Thompson’s performances have been critical to the Altas’ success. The guard from Digos City flirted with a triple double in the 84-64 win over Saint Benilde Blazers last Thursday, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and five steals.