SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle's Justine Baltazar v Letran's Larry Muyang

ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 10, 2019 07:45 PM
SUPER SHOWDOWN: La Salle's Baltazar v Letran's Muyang
(Photo by Arvin Lim, Josh Albelda)

Almost two decades ago, the power of Pinatubo was felt all over the Philippines.

Now in 2019, two towers from Pampanga are making their presence felt in the premiere collegiate leagues of the country.

De La Salle University's Justine Baltazar and Colegio de San Juan de Letran's Larry Muyang are the undisputed best local big men in the UAAP and in the NCAA, respectively.

Baltazar has done a stand up job replacing Cameroonian MVP Ben Mbala while Muyang has made sure the Knights are no longer pushovers in the paint.

So what happens when an irresistible force like Baltazar collides with an immovable object like Muyang?

That's what we're here to find out in the second edition of the Super Showdown as we pit Philippine collegiate basketball's top Filipino centers against one another - judging them in five categories (post scoring, perimeter scoring, rebounding, defense, and playmaking) with a boxing-style 10-point must system determining the decision.

POST SCORING

These two learned from one of the best in the business in so-called big man whisperer Jeff Napa.

Napa discovered and then developed Baltazar in Nazareth-NU and then harnessed the potential of Muyang in Letran.

When it all boils down to it, though, Muyang's bulk is just perfect for the back to the basket game and he has honed his skills so much that even the likes of Cameroonians Donald Tankoua and Mike Nzeusseu have a tough time bodying him up.

Baltazar is no slouch posting up, make no mistake, but his lankier frame is also not that much of a problem for bigger defenders such as Nigerian Bright Akhuetie or Senegalese Alex Diakhite.

Letan's big boy has a big body in need of big sustenance - and it just so happens that he can do just that by feasting inside the paint.

Advantage, Muyang, 10-9

PERIMETER SCORING

Put simply, Baltazar is a threat from outside while Muyang is not - not yet, at the very least.

La Salle's versatile center has the touch to take and make shots from long-range as well as mid-range.

In fact, he already has five triples to his name in eight games in the season.

On the other hand, Letran calls for its hulking center to make a living down low and, as such, he has not had that many chances to show off his shooting.

More than that, Baltazar is the prototype for the modern big man - a tall, long-limbed, and agile giant who needs to be defended even when he's standing behind the arc.

Advantage, Baltazar, 10-9

REBOUNDING

Baltazar just had for himself a 25-point, 25-rebound double-double.

In terms of cleaning up the glass in the UAAP, nobody is better aside from the foreign student-athletes, with his norms of 12.5 rebounds the fourth-best in all of the league.

Muyang inhales his fair share of rebounds, but also lags behind in terms of cleaning up his teammates' misses.

Of course, the simple explanation is that La Salle just has the more athletic big man compared of Letran's more ground-bound behemoth.

Advantage, Baltazar, 10-9

DEFENSE

Rim protection has always been Baltazar's elite skill - even when he was just a raw prospect as a Bullpup.

Now, he has blossomed into a menace patrolling the paint and his mere presence can alter shots, if not swat them away all the way.

And because he is more ground-bound, Muyang was never one to host a block party, but he more than holds his own inside thanks to his bulk.

Bottom line, though, La Salle can actually boast of having the more well-rounded two-way player.

Advantage, Baltazar, 10-9

PLAYMAKING

Muyang is such a force down low that he attracts double and triple-teams.

As such, he always has a golden opportunity to make plays for his teammates and, more often than not, makes the right plays.

After all, it wasn't that long ago that Muyang, along with Jeo Ambohot, Christian Fajarito, and Bong Quinto, all clogged the paint, but still had many, many assists to share among them.

This is then the department where Baltazar has the biggest room for improvement as he only has a total of eight assists in the season.

Advantage, Muyang 10-9

FINAL SCORE, 48-47 for La Salle's Justine Baltazar

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