NATIONAL University drubbed De La Salle Zobel, 78-58, in Game One of the UAAP juniors basketball tournament finals and moved on the verge of a season sweep at The Arena in San Juan on Friday.
John Lloyd Clemente finished with 16 points while Justine Baltazar scored 15 points, grabbed 27 of the team’s 57 rebounds and had four blocks on the day he turned 19. Karl Penano chipped in 12.
The Bullpups were in control from start to finish, erecting leads as big as 31 points, 70-39, following an 8-0 run to start the fourth period as they moved a win away from their second title in three years.
But NU coach Jeff Napa is not getting ahead of himself, saying the job is far from finished.
“Hindi pa tapos ang laban, may kailangan pa kaming tapusin talaga,” he said. “Still, day in and day out all out pa rin sa Game Two kasi alam naman namin ‘yung Zobel, kahit anong mangyari they will come out strong pa rin.”
The Bullpups were so deep their bench matched the output of their starters, 35-35.
“Walang superstar ‘tong team na ‘to,” said Napa. “Basta they’re just doing their job sa offense and defense.”
Season MVP Aljun Melecio had 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and one steal for DLSZ, while Marco Sario and MR Romero each had 10 markers.
NU can wrap up the title in Game Two is set on Friday.
NU 78: Clemente 16, Baltazar 15, Penano 12, Sarip 7, Jugar 5, Manalang 5, Atienza 4, Tolentino 4, Beldue 3, Callejo 3, Amsali 2, Coyoca 2, Fortea 0, Mosqueda 0, Careng 0
DLSZ 58: Melecio 15, Sario 10, Romero 10, Mariano 8, Fortuna 6, Cabarrus 4, Sobrevega 3, Pariaso 2, Rabat 0, Francisco 0, Tongco 0
Quarterscores: 22-13, 40-22, 62-39, 78-58