MANILA, Philippines – After giving the defending champion a scare in the opener, Perpetual Help pulled through this time as the Altas outlasted the Letran Knights, 78-75, in the NCAA Season 94 men's basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre, Friday, July 13.
New recruit Edgar Charcos dropped a game-high 27 points, the last on a buffer free throw with 13.2 seconds left for the final tally.
Altas coach Frankie Lim felt happy with his first win back in the NCAA, but he also downplayed its significance.
"It's just another game," said Lim, the ex-San Beda champion coach who narrowly lost to his former team in the season opener. (READ: New Perpetual coach Frankie Lim gives former team San Beda a fright)
"I don't take it personally. Same thing with San Beda, it's just another game. [If] we beat them, we beat them. [If] we lose, we lose."
With a chance to tie the game, speedy Letran guard JP Calvo drove hard to the hoop, only to be met with a clutch block from Perpetual's Prince Eze.
Charcos, the former University of the East guard who transferred to the Altas, got hacked for the penalty shots, which he split for a 78-75 lead.
Calvo had one last chance to tie the contest, but got stripped during the long bomb attempt as time expired.
Charcos, who already tallied 22 points at the half, shot 9-of-12 (75%) and dished out 4 assists.
Jelo Razon also chipped in 13 points and 7 rebounds, while the reigning Defensive Player of the Year Eze finished with 7 points, 15 boards and a game-high 6 blocks for the Altas.
After a mellow first half, Calvo came alive in the 4th, scoring 7 straight points ending in a transition triple for a 71-65 lead over the Altas.
Unfazed, the Altas responded with a lead-clinching 12-2 run, as Razon, Charcos and Kim Aurin dropped 3 straight tough buckets to seize the lead down the stretch.
Charcos and Jeffrey Coronel caught fire from beyond the arc and lifted the Altas, 40-32, in the 2nd quarter, completing a 19-4 run.
However, the Knights pierced through the Altas defense and responded with a 12-3 run to retake the lead, 44-43. Two Eze free throws swung the lead back to the Altas at the half, 45-44.
Charcos, although the top scorer at the half, had 4 fouls, which gave Lim no choice but to sit him out for the entire 3rd quarter.
Without him, the Altas still pulled away with 3 minutes left in the 3rd after a Kim Aurin trey and one more Eze free throw, 58-52.
But the Knights again swung momentum to their favor with a quarter-ending 9-2 run, ending with a spinning fadeaway from Quinto for the 61-60 lead.
PERPETUAL (78) – Charcos 27, Razon 13, Coronel 12, Aurin 10, Eze 7, Peralta 4, Mangalino 3, Gallardo 2, Canoy 0, Cuevas 0.
LETRAN (75) – Quinto 15, Calvo 14, Ambohot 11, Muyang 10, Fajarito 7, Yu 6, Balanza 5, Batiller 5, Balagasay 2, Agbong 0, Mandreza 0.
Quarter scores: 21-23, 45-44, 60-61, 78-75.