Championship-dreaming, not MVP-dreaming, for NU’s Kapampangan connection

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Feb 06, 2016 08:24 PM
Championship-dreaming for NU’s Kapampangan connection
BIGGER PICTURE. Justine Baltazar and John Lloyd Clemente have their eyes trained on the championship and on the championship alone.

Aljun Melecio looks to be running away with the MVP trophy in the UAAP 78 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

De La Salle Zobel’s scoring dynamo leads the league in, what else, scoring at 24 points per game – the only player to breach the 20-point mark. He’s tops in steals as well while also settling in the top 10 of assists and rebounds.

However, Melecio’s Junior Archers aren’t the overwhelming favorites to win it all this season. That distinction belongs to Nazareth School of National University who find themselves automatically advancing with a thrice-to-beat advantage into the Finals after completing an undefeated run in the elimination round.

And for the Bullpups’ two pillars, the championship is all that is in their sights.

While Melecio has the shine of a couple of 40-point outbursts under his belt, NU’s combo of Justine Baltazar and John Lloyd Clemente have actually been the most consistently effective players in the league. Versatile Clemente is second in the league in scoring and fifth in rebounding while towering Baltazar is seventh in points and tops in boards and blocks.

Still, the recruits right out of Pampanga are paying no mind to the MVP. As Mabalacat-raised Baltazar put it, “Mas magandang champion talaga. Yung MVP hindi namin iniisip.”

Especially with the Bullpups two wins away from reclaiming the crown that was taken away from them last season. “Gutom na gutom po kaming tapusin na lahat ng pinaghirapan namin,” Apalit-bred Clemente said.

NU’s 6’7” team captain echoed the sentiment in saying, “Sabi nga ni coach, ginawa na namin kaya panindigan na namin.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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