DE LA Salle-Zobel advanced to the UAAP Season78 juniors basketball finals with a 75-68 win over Ateneo on Monday at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Brent Paraiso, Miguel Fortuna, and MR Romero stepped up for La Salle as Aljun Melecio got into early foul trouble. The Junior Archers set up a title showdown with the unbeaten National University Bullpups.
Paraiso had 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Fortuna and Romero had 12 and 11 points respectively for La Salle-Zobel, which won after Melecio had foul troubles as early as the second period.
Melecio was called for his third foul in the second quarter but the Junior Archers never lost the lead. He fouled out late in the fourth but La Salle-Zobel was already on its way to victory.
“It’s just heart. We were playing the defending champions. They have the height, size, and experience advantage. Heart lang nagdala sa amin this game,” said La Salle Zobel coach Boris Aldeguer.
“Aljun fouled out but we had guys who stepped up. We could have broken down pero the guys stepped up. They didn’t want to lose today,” Aldeguer added.
The Junior Archers are seeking their first UAAP title since 2007 but they have to do it against the Bullpups squad who hold a thrice-to-beat advantage after sweeping the elimination round.
Game One between La Salle-Zobel and NU is on Friday at 2 p.m.
The Junior Archers got an early 13-4 lead but saw Melecio sit on the bench early in the game. Still, La Salle-Zobel used a big run in the second period to take a 44-34 advantage in the second period
Jan Sobrevega hit a triple that put the Junior Archers ahead, 57-42 early in the fourth quarter but the Blue Eagles came storming back with a 12-0 run to cut the deficit to three points, 57-54, halfway through the fourth.
Melecio hit a huge triple that broke Ateneo’s momentum, then converted another 3-pointer with 2:43 left in the game that gave the Junior Archers a 67-63 advantage. After Melecio fouled out, Jaime Cabarrus and Paraiso hit critical baskets for a 72-63 lead.
The loss was a sorry end to the high school career of 11 Ateneo players including last year’s finals Most Valuable Player Jolo Mendoza and Gian Mamuyac.
DLSZ 75 — Paraiso 15, Melecio 14, Fortuna 12, Romero 11, Mariano 6, Sario 5, Cabarrus 5, Sobrevega 3, Tongco 2, Francisco 2, Cosejo 0.
ADMU 68 — Mamuyac 16, Andrade 16, Belangel 15, Mendoza 11, S. Ildefonso 8, Eustaquio 2, Credo 0, Gatmaytan 0, Berjay 0, Rosales 0.
Quarterscores: 15-12; 30-28; 54-42; 75-68.