La Salle rips NU for share of third spot
Justine Baltazar delivered one of the finest individual performances of the season as De La Salle dumped National University, 85-61, Sunday to gain a share of third spot in UAAP men’s basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
The fourth-year big man sizzled with 25 points and 25 rebounds as the Green Archers coasted to a wire-to-wire victory for their fourth win in eight games to grab a share of third spot with University of Santo Tomas.
Held to just four points and four rebounds in the 92-77 win over UST, Baltazar came alive with 15 of his 25 points in the first half, where the Archers raced to a 17-point lead.
La Salle coach Gian Nazario couldn’t help but marvel over the 6-foot-7 Baltazar’s performance, which he said, is a product of his work in practice.
“He works really hard, takes care of his body and it’s shown in his game,” said Nazario.
For Baltazar, it was all about bouncing back from the sub-par performance against the Tigers last Saturday.
“I just wanted to play better because I know I didn’t play well against UST,” said Baltazar, who was also a force defensively in the shaded lane with two blocks. “We’re all here to correct our mistakes from the first round.”
Andrei Caracut finished with 16 points, built on three triples, and tallied six rebounds and five assists, while Jamie Malonzo fired 12 points – all in the first half for the Archers, who outrebounded the Bulldogs, 66-40.
The heavy defeat was NU’s seventh loss in eight games this season as the Bulldogs are now in danger of becoming the first team to get eliminated from Final Four contention. Brothers Dave and Shaun Ildefonso scored 11 and 10 points, respectively for the Bulldogs, who had a season-low five assists.
Nazario hopes the victory will lay the foundation for a strong performance against fierce rival Ateneo at MOA Arena on Sunday.
“It’s just a good win for us,” said Nazario. “We wanted to get momentum going into the next game.”
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