Baltazar-Clemente’s Pampanga connection keeps NU in contention
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jan 10, 2016 07:19 PM
WHAT'S COOKIN'? NU stands at the top of the heap in the Juniors division thanks to Pampanga recruits Justine Baltazar and John Lloyd Clemente.
A season ago, Mark Dyke and Philip Manalang gave their all only to see their Nazareth School of National University fall to a more loaded Ateneo de Manila High School in the Finals.
Because the then hardworking senior Bullpups failed to win another championship in their final years in the Juniors division, the teammates they left behind have made it their mission to avenge them in the ongoing season.
Proof? NU is, by far, the league’s top team with an immaculate 8-0 slate.
Much of that has to do with team captain Justine Baltazar and do-it-all forward John Lloyd Clemente who have turned themselves into the league’s best end-to-end combo.
The towering Baltazar is putting up an eye-popping 12.3 points, 12 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game while the burly Clemente is norming 17.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists all while anchoring the tough defense that neither Aljun Melecio nor Jolo Mendoza could break through.
Apparently, their tough defense is built upon the unshakable regional bond they share. Baltazar and Clemente, much like Dyke and Manalang before them, hail from Pampanga and journeyed to Manila together.
As Mabalacat-native Baltazar put it, “Kasi kapag Kapampangan-Kapampangan daw po, maganda talaga ang samahan.”
Indeed, Apalit-native Clemente said the reason he decided to enroll in NU is that he will be with many kababayans there. “Marami po kasing Kapampangan dito,” he said.
Having teammates who also come from the same place makes a different in Manila so much better. “Tiyaga at trabaho lang po talaga rito,” Baltazar said.
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