It wasn’t like we still needed convincing, but Nazareth School of National University nonetheless used the San Juan Arena, Friday as a stage to showcase their dominance.
As always, Mythical selections Justine Baltazar and John Lloyd Clemente were front and center, but it was through team effort that the Bullpups pummeled De La Salle Zobel, 78-58, to move a win away from a second championship in three years.
Yet to taste defeat through 15 games in the UAAP 78 Basketball Tournament, NU bared their teeth right off the bat and forced Game One of the Finals to be played at their pace.
True to form, the boys from Sampaloc made a living in the paint and pummeled on the boards, 57-34. After two quarters, half of their 40 points came from inside while the other side only mustered a total of 22.
Baltazar towered above all to collect 15 points, 27 rebounds, and four blocks while partner-in-crime Clemente had his own 16 points and eight rebounds.
On the defensive end, Winderlich Coyoca, Joshua Jugar, and Niel Tolentino connived to make life difficult for Aljun Melecio. The MVP only had 15 points, missing all but six of his 21 attempts, to go along with five turnovers as the Junior Archers fell to the league-leaders for the third time in as many tries.
The Bullpups try to close out their perfect season in Game Two on Friday at the San Juan Arena. “’Di pa tapos yung laban. Kelangan pa naming tapusin yung laban next Friday,” coach Jeff Napa said in his post-game conference.
NU 78 – Clemente 16, Baltazar 15, Penano 12, Sarip 7, Manalang 5, Jugar 5, Atienza 4, Tolentino 4, Callejo 3, Beldua 3, Amsali 2, Coyoca 2, Fortea 0, Careng 0, Mosqueda 0
DLSZ 58 – Melecio 15, Sario 10, Romero 10, Mariano 8, Fortuna 6, Cabarrus 4, Sobrevega 3, Paraiso 2, Tongco 0, Francisco 0, Rabat 0
QUARTER SCORES: 22-13, 40-22, 62-39, 78-58
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