DLSU Green Archers def. NU Bulldogs 80-76
Justine Baltazar, DLSU (17 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists)
This is your daily reminder that this season, Justine Baltazar is going to be a legitimate MVP candidate. His go-ahead jumper with 28 seconds left was huge, but his contributions all game long were even more important. A steady offensive force, who’s also shown improved range to boot.
Aljun Melecio, DLSU (19 points, 4 rebounds)
Shooting woes and all so far this season, Aljun impressed yesterday by finding other ways to score. We all know him as one of the patron saints of #ShootYourShot, but he changed things up during the second half by attacking the basket with the quickened pace of the game.
Jollo Go, DLSU (10 points, 3 made 3FG, +11)
The run that shifted momentum towards La Salle’s favor occurred during the latter part of the third quarter, and a large part of that was Jollo Go. With the Green Archers shooting bricks all game long, Go making two big threes during that brief run was huge down the stretch for La Salle.
Dave Ildefonso, NU (18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists)
There are only a few players in recent memory who have fit the mold as franchise-altering pieces the moment they step into the UAAP Seniors Division. Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, and Jeron Teng are prime examples of this. Dave Ildefonso is in that same class. Even Kib Montalbo, one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, could not do anything to stifle Dave.
- As weird as it may seem, La Salle, despite their bevy of big men, succeeded in a faster pace rather than a slower one. A lot of that has to do with the level of control La Salle’s guards had on their offense. Melecio, Caracut, and even Montalbo are much more natural as creators rather than Santillan and Baltazar. The tools are there for this team to contend. It’s all about striking a balance to get to use each tool properly.
- NU’s youth showed as the game wound down to the final seconds. The first instance: how Troy Rike missed TWO crucial free throws that could have given NU the lead with 53 seconds remaining. Second: How Issa Gaye bit on the misdirection of La Salle and allowed Justine Baltazar a sliver of daylight for the baseline jumper. Third: Enzo Joson’s crucial five-second violation that he committed right after the Baltazar go-ahead bucket.
- On that note: These Bulldogs are learning. They’re young. In the starting line-up alone, all five of their players have only played at most two years of college basketball. Only a few expected them to keep in step with La Salle in the first place. To even have the chance to win the game towards the end is a testament to this team’s talent.
- You have to give it up to La Salle. Poor three-point shooting and all, they didn’t settle and instead adjusted. From trying to play around the slow pace that was, they amped it up, pressured NU and took advantage of their lack of a pure point guard, and it led to points off the fast break and second chance opportunities. As long as you exert effort, you will always have a fighting chance. The Green Archers showcased that during the second half, and it was key in grabbing their first win of the season.