Altas debut with whipping of Bombers
University of Perpetual Help System Dalta wasn’t in the conversation for a deep playoff run the previous season and yet the Altas defied the odds.
With a come-from-behind 84-60 blowout of the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers on Sunday at Filoil EcoOil Centre, the Altas showed why they should be considered as contenders in NCAA Season 98.
Rey Barcuma energized the Altas off the bench on both ends and helped Perpetual erase a forgettable opening quarter.
“I’m not an offensive type of guy. I really focus on defense every time I’m out there, so those points just came in as bonus,’’ said Barcuma after lighting up the Perpetual scoresheet with a career-high 22 points on 10-of-11 shooting, eight of them coming from four momentum-shifting steals.
The whippet-quick Barcuma actually sat on the bench the entire first period as the Altas dealt with adversity and watched the Heavy Bombers build a 12-point advantage.
“I know that most of my teammates will be given a chance to play and I was just told to be ready,’’ said Barcuma.
When the sophomore guard checked in, the Altas suddenly went into overdrive with Jielo Razon and Mark Omega helping out, before Barcuma swished an unusual three that finally put them ahead and set the stage for the carnage.
“I don’t usually take that shot, but I was left open and I’m glad that I made it,’’ said Barcuma, whose next three midway in the third gave the Altas a 19-point leverage, eventually breaking the the Bombers.
The Altas were surprise Final Four qualifiers last season, stunning the College of St. Benilde Blazers in the playoff before nearly humiliating eventual back-to-back champion Letran, if not for a couple of unlucky breaks in the dying seconds.
“I told them that this game will define our season and we have to prove that we can do it,’’ said Perpetual coach Myk Saguiguit. “As for Rey [Barcuma], I know what he’s capable of and what he can bring to this team, regardless of playing time.’’ INQ