The Arena, San Juan
August 10, 2014
Of Baloria, Pinto and Why NCAA Games Tick
In one of those times I was sitting inside the press room while Season 90 games were ongoing, spin.ph’s Karlo Sacamos and I, Sportsmaryosep at your service, wondered why games in this league are entertaining and a beauty to watch. We both agreed that, one, most of the games ended up close, and two, any one of the 10 participating schools can beat anyone. And we mean anyone. Including Mapua, yes.
So to prove the point, I counted the numbers and mustered my minimal to non-existent Mathematical skills. To date, the NCAA has played a total of 40 senior basketball games. Of those, 28 were decided by a single-digit and the other 12 by double-digit margins. The average winning margin of those 28 wins decided by a single-digit is 5.1071429 points. Of the 28, five ended up decided by a point and six by two points. So you get the idea how matches are being fought that close in the NCAA. And for all intents and purposes, Karlo and I answered our own question.
Interestingly, two of the reasons why this 90-year-old league are being peppered with thrillers and cliffhangers are Perpetual Help’s Juneric Baloria and Arellano U’s John Pinto. Baloria and Pinto, of course, came through with clutch plays that led to their respective teams escaping from the jaws of defeat and eventually clinching co-ACCEL Quantum-3XVI NCAA Press Corps Player of Week honors.
To further tell their story, here’s a piece from The Philippine STAR, the paper you read from cover to cover (Shameless plugging!):
Arellano U’s John Nard Pinto and Perpetual Help’s Juneric Baloria are saving their best for last.
Giving it all on their last season before they turn pro, Pinto and Baloria came through with clutch plays in propelling their teams to victory and clinching the ACCEL Quantum-3XVI NCAA Press Corps Players of the Week plum.
Pinto had a crucial rebound and a key putback to lift the Chiefs to an escape 67-66 win over the St. Benilde Blazers last Friday while Baloria poured in 10 of 32 poinrts in the fourth quarter to power the Altas to an 85-82 triumph over the Letran Knights Saturday.
Pinto ended up with a team-high 19 points and his Arellano U team winding up with a seventh victory against two losses, or just half a game behind four-peat champion San Beda, who leads the league with a 7-1 (win-loss) record.
Pinto and Baloria bested Arellano U’s American reinforcement Dioncee Holts and Jose Rizal’s neophyte guard Bernabe Teodoro for the weekly plum backed by Bactigel hand sanitizer, Doctor J Mighty Alcohol and Mighty Mom Anti-bacteria.
For Pinto, he is just giving everything he got.
“This is my last year so I just want to give it all my best to help my team,” said the 23-year-old Pinto, who is applying for this year’s PBA rookie draft late this month, in Filipino.
Baloria, on the other hand, torched the Knights with six booming triples to finish with a league season-high output.
The Lanao del Norte native had his biggest moments late in the game when he hit a three-pointer and completed a three-point play that pushed the Altas to within a point and made a critical steal and a putback that sealed the deal.
Baloria said he is dreaming to help the Las Pinas-based school win its first ever NCAA championship before he tries his luck with the PBA.
“I hope I can help my school win an NCAA championship, it’s one of my dreams,” said Baloria.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of ncaa.org.ph)