Unbeaten Bullpups, Junior Archers begin UAAP title series
Aljun Melecio and the Junior Archers try to topple the thrice-to-beat Bullpups led by Justine Baltazar. Jerome Ascano / Dante Peralta

RANGED against undefeated National University in the UAAP Season 78 juniors basketball Finals, De La Salle-Zobel coach Boris Aldeguer believes miracles do happen.

“It’s gonna be a David and Goliath situation,” said Aldeguer. “But you know what, with the heart they displayed against the Blue Eaglets, who knows? Anything is possible. Bilog ang bola”

Aldeguer cited two improbable situations in women’s volleyball, where UAAP’s Ateneo and NCAA’s College of Saint Benilde overcame thrice-to-beat advantages to win the title, as well as San Miguel, the first PBA team to capture the championship after going 0-3 down.

He believes the Junior Archers can do it as they take on the thrice-to-beat Bullpups in the championship opener at 2 p.m. on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Arena.

Only one school in the league’s high school sports has overturned the tremendous thrice-to-win disadvantage to claim the crown – University of the East’s juniors table tennis squad, which defeated NU two years ago.

De La Salle-Zobel downed Ateneo, 75-67, in the second phase of the stepladder playoffs.

The Junior Archers look to neutralize the Bullpups’ slotman Justine Baltazar, who tallied 11 double-doubles in the elimination round.

Baltazar is averaging 13.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game this season, while Rhayyan Amsali had a 8.4-point and 4.4-rebound clip in the elims.

“We have to find ways to limit their bigs,” said Aldeguer.

Then there's John Lloyd Clemente is the league’s third leading scorer with 16.4 points per game.

Pressure is on for Season MVP Aljun Melecio as De La Salle-Zobel seeking its first title since 2007.

Melecio averaged 22.7 points in the eliminations, including two 40-plus point games.

NU is eyeing to regain the title it won two years ago. 

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