By Bashful JVS
The De La Salle Green Archers fought back a second-half challenge from the National University Bulldogs to cruise to an 85-61 victory last Sunday at the MOA Arena. Justine Baltazar led the Green Archers with a 25-point, 25-rebound performance, which sees the Green and White at .500 for the first time in UAAP Season 82.
The Green Archers have now won three of their last four games, after dropping three of their first four games, with their last setback being a heartbreaking thriller against Juan Gomez de Liaño and the UP Fighting Maroons.
The Archers were led by Justine Baltazar, who tallied a historic 25-25 stat in points and rebounds. Andrei Caracut contributed 16 points, while Jamie Malonzo contributed 12 before fouling out.
The Green Archers were particularly impressive on the defensive end, as they only allowed National U to shoot 33% of their field goals, while the Archers hit 38% from the field and from rainbow territory. Free throws were a bit better for La Salle as well, as they shot 12-19 from the line, an improvement over the team’s Season 82 average of 52%. La Salle also grabbed 66 rebounds compared to National U’s 40.
The Green Archers raced out to an early 26-9 lead after one quarter, and built the lead up to 20 points after one half, 44-24. The Bulldogs tried to make a run for it in the second quarter, but La Salle fired up 8 straight points to go up 38-17.
After the first half buzzer, the Green Archers continued their march towards a second straight victory, building the lead up to as much as 24 points. However, La Salle’s easy victory wasn’t without its fair share of complications. Supersub Encho Serrano went down with an ankle sprain in the third quarter of the game, and would not come back for La Salle. Tyrus Hill likewise had to exit the game because of fouls.
True to their nature, the Bulldogs didn’t go down without a fight, as they tried to cut La Salle’s lead to 17 entering the fourth, and managed to reduce it to a 65-52 deficit with around 7 minutes left. to a 13-2 run. However, La Salle wouldn’t be denied of their second straight win as they made a 16-2 counter-run to build an 81-54 lead with two and a half minutes left in the game.
All that’s left after the game-deciding run was to settle the final score, which La Salle did with an emphatic 85-61 win. La Salle is now tied at 3rd place with Far Eastern University and the University of Santo Tomas in the standings, with a 4-4 win-loss record.
La Salle’s next game will be against archrival Ateneo, October 13, 12 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena.