UAAP: Baltazar lifts La Salle over NU, onto win column
The inside-outside combination of Justine Baltazar and Aljun Melecio granted La Salle a much welcome win against NU
Justine Baltazar’s career outing and Aljun Melecio’s bounce back game were more than enough to make sure De La Salle University was not staying locked out of the win column to start the UAAP 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Melecio had the game-tying free throws and Baltazar had the go-ahead basket as the Green Archers shot down National University, 80-76, on Wednesday at the MOA Arena.
Closing the contest with a 6-0 run in the last two minutes, La Salle has now evened its slate to 1-1. “Very evident nung first half na nag-struggle kami so we needed to overcome ourselves before we can compete,” head coach Louie Gonzalez said post-game.
They were actually down by as much as 11 in the first half before a 30-point third quarter neared them to their opponents.
From there, the two teams were going toe-to-toe until Troy Rike’s inside basket granted the Bulldogs a 76-74 lead inside the last two minutes.
In the ensuing possession, though, Melecio got fouled from behind the arc by Enzo Joson and converted two of his three charities to tie the tally.
Back at the other end, Rike was sent to the line, but muffed on both of his attempts before seeing Baltazar hit a baseline jumper for a 78-76 lead for La Salle.
NU would not able to get any closer following a five-second inbound violation by Joson and a botched triple try by Shaun Ildefonso.
La Salle’s bounce back win was finished off by two free throws from Andrei Caracut.
Still, the game was all about the inside-outside combination of Baltazar who had a career-best 17 points on top of 12 rebounds and Melecio who had 19 markers, four boards, and two assists.
Santi Santillan and Jollo Go also had much welcome contributions with 10 points apiece.
For the Bulldogs, Dave Ildefonso showed the way with 16 points while Rike also added 15 markers and six rebounds. Unable to build on their season-opening win, however, they dropped to 1-1.
LA SALLE 80 – Melecio 19, Baltazar 17, Santillan 10, Go 10, Manuel 7, Caracut 6, Montalbo 4, Bates 4, Dyke 2, Serrano 1, Corteza 0
NU 76 – Ildefonso D 16, Rike 15, Clemente 12, Ildefonso S 9, Joson 8, Gaye 8, Diputado 2, Gallego 2, Sinclair 2, Galinato 2, Yu 0, Aquino 0, Tibayan 0, Malonzo 0
QUARTER SCORES: 16-25, 35-38, 65-59, 80-76
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