The University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas were able to grind it out with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights.
Behind stops by Bright Akhuetie and big baskets by AJ Coronel, the Altas were able to halt the Knights’ four-game winning streak, 61-55, Friday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Nigerian Bright Akhuetie notched a double-double once again with 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting to go along with 16 rebounds. Moreover, he was able to limit Letran’s Jom Sollano to just six points on a horrid 3-for-11 shooting and three rebounds.
“My teammates kept on saying to me that ‘we should get this, we should get this,'” Akhuetie shared. “They did not stop pushing me that’s why I wanted to give my best to make them happy.”
After going down 22-13 early in the second stanza, Perpetual went on an 18-4 rally that carried over to the third canto behind the troika of Akhuetie, AJ Coronel, and Gab Dagangon. The Altas were able to take a 31-26 lead during that stretch.
“Credit to the players kasi they worked hard sa defense. Nag-focus talaga kami on defense after nung talo sa San Beda,” Perpetual head coach Jimwell Gican said about his team’s effort on defense. “Na-alarm kami lalo nung nag 40 points si Nambatac. Depensa talaga yung tinutukan namin.”
Moreover, Letran’s leading scorer Rey Nambatac was hampered by foul trouble, slapped with his third foul a minute in to the third quarter.
The Knights and the Altas entered the final frame with the latter clinging on to a two point edge, 46-44. Nambatac came alive scoring six points to cut Perpetual’s lead to just a solitary point, 54-53, with 3:38 remaining in the game.
A fadeaway jumper by Dagangon over Nambatac extended Perpetual’s lead to three with 2:57 left. Unfortunately for Letran though, JP Calvo cramped up in the ensuing play resulting to a four on five disadvantage for the Knights that led to an and-one play for Coronel.
Apreku was able to find Bong Quinto underneath with 52.9 ticks left to keep Letran alive but a miss by Sollano and a basket by Coronel on the break was enough to give Perpetual the win.
“Malaking panalo kasi it’s a good sign for us na may chance kami sa final four,” Gican added. “Yung talaga yung ina-aim namin.”
Gab Dagangon added 14 points for Perpetual while Coronel punched in 13 markers as well.
For the Knights, Rey Nambatac paced his team with 19 points, eight rebounds, and three steals. JP Calvo added 12 markers. However, Letran shot a horrid 34.92 percent from the field.
The Altas were also able to outrebound the Jeff Napa-mentored squad 47-39.
The Perpetual Altas (3-2) will next face the Benilde Blazers on Tuesday, July 26 at 4:00pm. On the other hand, the Letran Knights (4-2) will go up against the JRU Heavy Bombers on Thursday, July 27 at 2:00pm.
UPHSD (61) – Akhuetie 21, Dagangon 14, Coronel 13, Pido 7, Dizon 2, Eze 2, Singontiko 2, Hao 0, Oliveria 0, Sadiwa 0, Yuhico 0.
CSJL (55) – Nambatac 19, Calvo 12, Apreku 6, Quinto 6, Sollano 6, Pambid 4, Dela Pena 2, Ambohot 0, Balagasay 0, Balanza 0, Bernabe 0, Luib 0, Sario 0, Ular 0.
Quarterscores: 6-9, 27-26, 46-44, 61-55.