By REYNALD MAGALLON
Kim Aurin took charge in the second half as University of Perpetual Help came through with a nerve-wracking 63-60 victory over Emilio Aguinaldo College to catch the last bus to the play-in round of the NCAA Season 97 yesterday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Aurin unloaded all of his 14 points in the final two quarters before the Altas held on to their defense in the waning seconds to repulse a late Generals rally and take the victory much to the delight of the Perpetual fans in attendance.
“Having mostly na players namin coming out from high school, tapos may mga retainee na kakaunti lang, it’s an achievement for Perpetual na unti unti yung proseso na gusto namin mangyari nagagawa namin. Masaya kaso medyo nakakaba kasi muntikan na naman kami nahabol na naman,” said first year head coach Myk Saguiguit.
The Altas finished with a 4-5 record good for the fifth spot and set up a do-or-die clash against Arellano in the play-in round on Sunday.
The winner of that match will face the loser of the game between the third and fourth seeds.
Mark Omega, who was the catalyst of the Altas first half onslaught, posted a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds while Cris Pagaran added 10.
Perpetual started hot behind Omega, Pagaran and Razon and padded its lead to 12 points in the second quarter.
The Generals, however, suddenly came alive in the payoff period behind the efforts of Kris Gurtiza and Ralph Robin.
Gurtiza paced the Generals with 18 points, including a huge triple that cut the Altas lead down to just three with 1:01 left in the game. Robin dropped all of his 11 poiny in the second half while Allen Liwag added 12 markers.
With the Altas holding on to a nine-point lead inside the final five minutes, the Generals tried to mount a comeback triggered by the back-to-back hits from Nat Cosejo and JP Maguliano to come within four points, 61-57.
Aurin retaliated with a basket before Curtiza nailed that big triple that capped a swift 8-2 run.
The Generals forced a stop but came up dry in the final possessions. They also had the chance to tie the game and force an extra period with three ticks left but Gurtiza came up short in his last second three-point heave.
PERPETUAL 63 ˗ Aurin 14, Omega 13, Pagaran 10, Razon 9, Egan 6, Barcuma 5, Cuevas 4, Martel 2, Sevilla 0, Abis 0.
EAC 60 ˗ Gurtiza 18, Liwag 12, Robin 11, Maguliano 8, Cosejo 5, Ad. Doria 3, Luciano 2, Taywan 1, Quinal 0, Coda 0, Bunyi 0, Cadua 0.
Quarters: 18-10, 33-26, 48-44, 63-60.