NATIONAL University showed no mercy and never let up in a 96-75 win over De La Salle-Zobel on Friday to wrap up the UAAP Season 78 juniors basketball title at the Filoil Flying V Arena.
A 28-3 run bridging the second and third quarters brought NU’s lead to a whopping 23 points, 73-40, that practically sealed the Bullpups' third title in five seasons under head coach Jeff Napa.
NU also bounced back from its first and only loss of the season in Game Two of the finals at the hands of La Salle-Zobel, which needed three wins to claim the title.
The Bullpups won all of their 14 elimination round games to gain the thrice-to-beat incentive in the finals but missed out on a sweep of the season with a 71-60 loss to the Junior Archers in Game Two.
NU was leading 22-9 at the end of the first quarter but the Junior Archers came to life in the second period, hitting long jumpers to cut the deficit to just a point, 33-32.
NU responded with a 15-5 close to the second period capped off by a buzzer-beating three by Winderlich Coyoca with 0.3 of a second left to give the Bullpups a 48-37 double-digit lead at the half.
Justine Baltazar was named as Finals MVP after finishing with 18 points and 14 rebounds. The 6-7 beanpole also got plenty of support, something that was lacking in Game Two.
Coyoca had 20 points and six rebounds while Karl Penano finished with 16 points for NU. John Lloyd Clemente added 15 points and 15 rebounds while Rhayyan Amsali pumped in 11 points to go with nine boards.
“At least, nag-send ng strong message ‘yung team. Pinakita nila na deserving sila mag-champion,” said NU coach Jeff Napa.
Aljun Melecio scored 22 points at the end of his storied high school career that saw him win season MVP honors.
NU (96) — Coyoca 20, Baltazar 18, Penano 16, Clemente 15, Amsali 11, Callejo 6, Atienza 5, Fortea 3, Jugar 2, Beldua 0, Tolentino 0, Mosqueda 0, Careng 0, Manalang 0, Sarip 0.
DLSZ (75) — Melecio 22, Sobrevega 20, Sario 14, Paraiso 8, Romero 6, Cabarrus 3, Fortuan 2, Salafranca 0, Mariano 0, Tongco 0.
Quarters: 22-9, 48-37, 79-52, 96-75.