JUSTINE Baltazar led the way as La Salle scored a 65-59 victory over University of the East to bounce back in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The fourth-year center poured 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, to go with three assists to pull the Green Archers' record to an even 5-5 record.
Baltazar scored 10 of his points in the final eight minutes where La Salle went on a 10-3 attack to turn a 49-47 deficit to a 57-52 lead with 3:50 remaining.
UE stayed in the game after Alex Diakhite scored on a putback to trim the lead down to two, 61-59 with 1:16 left, but Encho Serrano scored on a tough drive to restore the four-point cushion for the Archers.
The Red Warriors committed two crucial turnovers in the final minute, with Rey Suerte and Diakhite both losing grip of the leather, allowing the Green Archers to escape with the win.
La Salle also avenged its tight 89-88 defeat to UE on Sept. 14.
"Swerte kami that we were able to pull through," said coach Gian Nazario, with his wards only having three days to prepare after its 77-69 defeat to Ateneo last Sunday.
Making the Green Archers' preparation harder is the flu bug that bit the team hard.
"We found out that seven of our players had flu, and three of our players are injured. We’re happy that we were able to pull this win out. We really needed this one," he said.
Serrano produced 12 points, four assists and two steals, while Jamie Malonzo also scored 12, while making six rebounds and three steals.
The Red Warriors suffered their third straight loss to fall to a 3-8 card.
Suerte could only muster 17 points this time after playing the hero role in the first round. He also got four rebounds and four assists.
Diakhite had himself 11 points and hauled in 20 rebounds, as Philip Manalang got 14 points, six boards, and two steals in the defeat.
La Salle 65 - Baltazar 23, Malonzo 12, Serrano 12, Bates 9, Melecio 4, Manuel 3, Caracut 2, Cagulangan 0, Cu 0, Lim 0.
UE 59 -- Suerte 17, Manalang 14, Diakhite 11, Conner 9, Mendoza 7, Apacible 1, Antiporda 0, Beltran 0, Camacho 0, Cruz 0, Pagsanjan 0, Tolentino 0.
Quarterscores: 14-13; 26-28; 42-46; 65-59.