DE La Salle-Zobel extended the UAAP Season 78 juniors basketball finals series after handing National University its first loss of the season, 71-60, on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Arena.
Season MVP Aljun Melecio got timely support from Marco Sario and MR Romero as the Junior Archers took Game Two of the finals, in the process ruining the Bullpups' quest for a perfect season.
The Junior Archers thus stretched the series to a Game Three next Friday at the Filoil Arena, with the thrice-to-beat Bullpups needing only a win to wrap up their second UAAP title in three years.
“I think we just make non-believers believers,” said La Salle coach Boris Aldeguer. “Everybody wrote us off after Game One. We are out to prove that we are a worthy challenger.”
Melecio had 14 points and nine assists while scoring nine in the pivotal third quarter when the Junior Archers stormed ahead for good entering the fourth quarter, 57-51.
Melecio also got a lot of help, with Sario scoring a team-high 16 points and Romero contributing a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Junior Archers.
John Lloyd Clemente had 25 points while Justine Baltazar added 15 points and 20 rebounds for the Bullpups, who entered the finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage after sweeping the elimination round.
The Junior Archers opened the third period with an 11-2 run to take a 41-32 lead which swelled to 51-39 on a layup by Melecio.
DLSZ (71) — Sario 16, Melecio 14, Romero 14, Fortuna 8, Mariano 6, Sobrevega 5, Tongco 4, Paraiso 2, Cabarrus 2, Salafranca 0.
NU (60) — Clemente 25, Baltazar 15, Amsali 7, Penano 4, Coyoca 4, Atienza 2, Sarip 2, Jugar 1, Tolentino 0, Callejo 0, Manalang 0.
Quarters: 14-17, 30-30, 57-51, 71-60.