No let up for Baloria and Arboleda as Perpetual Help turns back Letran
by rick olivares
During the 2014 Gatorade PBA Draft, Juneric Baloria couldn’t hide his disappointment at being selected so late (30th overall by Blackwater Elite). The shooting guard for the Perpetual Help Altas, who has also been lighting it up in the D-League with the Big Chill Superchargers, was figured by many in the media to be chosen in the second round. However, much to the shock of many, he fell that far in the draft. Even as his name was announced, he struggled to smile.
“Happy naman napili rin, syempre,” he said on draft night. “bakit naman hindi. Marami nga na hindi naitawag. Siguro inaasahan lang natin na bigyan ng pansin na maaga. Siguro meron pa tayong kailangan ayusin sa laro natin at okay naman. Kasama yan sa pag-improve ng player. Yung nga lang medyo tagilid ka lang kapag malayo-layo ka sa draft.”
He knows nothing yet of Blackwater’s plans for him, if any. In the meantime, there is something he can control… to a certain degree… helping his Altas qualify for the Final Four in his final season.
While some disagree with the NCAA’s allowing current players to apply for the draft without losing their eligibility (until they suit up for a pro club), there are fears that the drafted players will turn down the level of their game so as not to hurt their chances of landing a slot in their pro club.
Up against the struggling Letran Knights, Baloria as well as teammate and co-draftee, Harold Arboleda (20th overall by Talk ‘N Text), played their usual pedal-to-the-metal frenetic kind of basketball. “Walang magbabago sa laro namin ni Harold dito sa team pagkatpos ng draft. Hindi pa tapos ang laban namin sa NCAA,” said Baloria. “Kung may chance makapagbigay ng championship sa iskwelahan bakit hindi?”
The two along with Earl Thompson, Joel Jolangcob and Justine Alano, who initially applied for the draft but pulled out a week before D-Day, led the way for the Altas’ 67-64 victory to hike their standing to 7-4 (the reverse of Letran’s slate).
Baloria, the Angeles City, Pampanga native shot 7-17 from the field and hit one of two free throws. He pulled down two rebounds but handed off five assists. He also registered a steal versus two turnovers.
Arboleda on the other hand, finished with 10 points, six assists (tops for either squad this day), and one block.
Baloria was handcuffed in the fourth period by Letran’s defense. With the Altas gunner silenced, Perpetual Help struggled to put points on the board. They scored only eight points to the 13 of the Knights.
Letran’s Ford Ruaya who also applied for the draft but was not selected was dismal all game long. In 17 minutes, he scored only one point to go with three rebounds, and two assists.
Spotty officiating also hurt both sides in the endgame.
“Challenge para sa amin mga na-draft na makakuha ng pwesto sa team,” admitted Baloria after the win over Letran. “Sana talaga mabigyan ng chance. Sana.”