Early favorites University of Perpetual Help DALTA (UPHSD) Altas needed a clutch performance by Earl Thompson and Gabriel Dagangon to escape the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Pirates, 70-61, Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
The Altas were completely off in the first minutes of the game as the team could not find their offensive groove and were lackadaisical on defense. Filoil Premier Cup Most Valuable Player Bright Akhuetie had trouble with the quick LPU lineup that resulted to him grabbing two fouls in the early goings of the game. Moreover, Gilas Cadet member Earl Thompson had three fouls in the opening quarter as well. The Pirates were able to gain a 16-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Perpetual was able to storm back in the second quarter behind the efforts of foreign student-athlete, Nigerian, Prince Eze feasted in the paint in scoring 14 points in the first half. Gabe Dagangon also came alive in scoring four points in the quarter to give the Altas the lead 29-24 before halftime.
After a 46-46 deadlock in the third canto, the Pirates were able to gain a 55-50 lead behind the hot hands of rookie Shaq Alanes. Alanes scored two three-pointers including a step back over Crispin Elopre. Unfortunately for the Pirates, their shots were not falling soon after. Moreover, Eze connected with a jumper to cut the LPU lead to just two points with 5:51 remaining. Earl Thompson then came alive after a bad start in scoring eight of the team’s next ten points to give the Altas a 64-57 lead. Costly misses by Jebb Bulawan and Wilson Baltazar did not add to the Pirates cause as free throws by Antonio Coronel and Dagangon sealed the game for the Altas, 70-61.
After the game, Coach Aric del Rosario told us after the game that he and the team are pressured to win it all this season. “Sobrang pressure sa amin,” the veteran mentor said. “Lahat ng tao na nakikita ko sinasabi na ang lakas ng team namin. Kaso masasabi ko lang na malakas kami pag nanalo kami ng championship.”
Moreover, he was proud of the performance of Eze, who he called humble and easy to teach, and Dagangon.
The Altas were led by the double-double of Eze, who contributed 21 points and 10 rebounds. Earl Thompson and Gabe Dagangon scored 12 apiece. For the Pirates, Alanes scored 13 points, including four three pointers. Baltazar, Nguidjol, and Bulawan scored 11 points each.
Lyceum shot better from the field at 33% compared to Perpetuals 32%. However, the Altas outrebounded the Pirates 59-39 and connected on nine more free throws.
UPHSD will next play on Friday against the CSB Blazers at 2:00pm while the LPU Pirates face the AU Chiefs at 12:00nn on the same day.
UPHSD 70 – Eze 21, Dagangon 12, Thompson 12, Akhuetie 9, Coronel 6, Elopre 5, Ylagan 3, Oliveria 2, Dizon 0, Gallardo 0
LPU 61 – Alanes 13, Bulawan 11, Baltazar 11, Nguidjol 11, Mbbida 8, Taladua 3, Soliman 2, Gabayni 2, Sunga 0, Malabanan 0, Lacastesantos 0, Gabayni 0, Lugo 0, Bulawan 0
Quarters: 9-16, 29-24, 46-46, 70-61.