Down majority of the game, reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson controlled the game down the stretch, in almost notching another triple double, to lead the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta (Altas) to its third straight win, 81-78, against Mapua Institute of Technology (MIT) Cardinals early Tuesday evening at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
Both teams were neck-and-neck in the opening minutes of the game. With Perpetual down 13-14 with 1:17 remaining in the quarter, Cris Elopre was able to score five straight points, including a three-point shot from the top of the arc with the foul, to put the Altas up an 18-16 lead. Denniel Aguirre then assisted on a jumper by Mark Brana and scored a fastbreak layup of his own, giving the Cardinals a 20-18 lead to end the quarter.
The physicality in the game turned up a notch in the second stanza of the game. The quarter opened with a 6-0 rally capped by a corner three pointer by Exe Biteng from an Andretti Stevens pass that gave the Cardinals an eight-point lead. However, the Altas came crawling back with Bright Akhuetie scoring six straight points to cut the lead to just a solitary point. A problem arose though for the Las Pinas-based squad as they were in the penalty zone as early as the 5:09 mark of the quarter. A total of eight fouls were given up by Perpetual in the quarter. Moreover, Akhuetie was assessed with three fouls in the quarter.
19-year old center Allwell Oraeme took advantage of this in going to the line six times, converting on four of them, to render the Cardinals a 34-29 lead. More free throws came for Mapua but Elopre again converted on a four-point play to cut the lead just 35-38. A layup by Mapua’s Justin Serrano to enter halftime was unfortunately not counted.
The Cardinals again blasted the Altas to start the third canto. Team captain Josan Nimes created for his teammates to free up Oraeme and Raflores to give Mapua a 47-38 lead. The tides of the game turned when the Red-and-Gold squad were in the penalty as early as the 6:09 mark of the quarter. Akhuetie and Thompson pushed the offense and pounded the paint that resulted to free throws. With 3:50 remaining, Akhuetie was able to score on a three-point play to tie the game at 52-all. With Oraeme getting his fourth foul, all coming in the quarter, Nimes exploded to score the eight straight points. A drive by layup by Gerald Dizon just in the nick of time ended the quarter with the Cardinals clinging to a 62-59 lead.
MIT was able to extend the lead to 71-64 with 5:56 remaining in the last stanza of the game. This is where reigning NCAA MVP Scottie Thompson took charge. Thompson pushed the pace in slashing to the lanes in either grabbing contact or assisting to his teammates. Behind Thompson, the Altas were able to cut the lead to 70-73. Oraeme and Akhuetie exchanged baskets with Mapua clinging to a one-point lead with 1:05 remaining. Nimes, out of an isolation play, badly missed a fadeaway jumper. Thompson then found a cutting Gab Dagangon to finally give the Altas the lead. After a timeout, the play set by the MIT coaching staff was badly broken resulting to a turnover by Oraeme. Akuetie was able to grab the ball and throw an outlet to Dagangon to give Perpetual a three-point cushion with seven seconds remaining. Nimes badly missed a step back three to give the Altas its third straight win, 82-79.
Coach Aric del Rosario called this game as a test of character for the Altas. “Grabe ang puso na pinakita ng mga ito,” pointing to his players. Dagangon and Akhuetie were down with the flu but still persisted on playing this game. A gamble that paid off for the Altas. Moreover, he commended rookie Antonio Coronel’s defense on Josan Nimes down the stretch.
The Altas were led by Akhuetie’s 24 big points on 8/12 shooting and 8/9 from the charity stripe. Scottie Thompson almost notched his second straight triple double in grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out ten assists but fell just one point shy with nine points. On the other end, Josan Nimes scored 16 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists. Allwell Oraeme had 15 points and continued to pound the boards with 18 rebounds.
Both teams combined for 54 fouls. UPHSD outrebounded MIT 52-42 resulting to a 13-9 advantage in second chance points. What led to the downfall for Mapua was them missing 18 free throws, 21/39.
Perpetual will next face Jose Rizal University on Friday, July 10 at 2:00pm while Mapua will go against Letran on the same day at 12:00nn.
UPHSD (82) – Akhuetie 24, Dagangon 16, Elopre 14, Thompson 9, Eze 7, Coronel 5, Oliveria 4, Dizon 2, Sadiwa 1, Oliveria 0, Ylagan 0, Tamayo 0, Bantayan 0, Gallardo 0, Cabiltes 0
MIT (79) – Nimes 16, Oraeme 15, Isit 13, Aguirre 12, Biteng 8, Raflores 4, Stevens 4, Serrano 4, Brana 2, Dela Rosa 1, Que 0, Menina 0, Layug 0
Quarters: 18-20, 35-39, 59-62, 82-79.