Justine Baltazar’s big game lifted the La Salle Green Archers past the University of the East Warriors, 65-59, in the 82nd University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
The 6’8” Baltazar bounced back from the flu and played with no relief, scoring 23 points and hauling 12 rebounds in leading the Archers to their fifth win in 10 games
Baltazar, one of seven players who are in good shape after the Green Archers’ loss to the Ateneo Blue Eagles last Sunday, fired 10 points in the final period where La Salle finally took charge after 12 lead changes.
The Green Archers, who moved to third place with their 5-5 win-loss record and remained in the hunt for a Final Four seat, got eight points from Baltazar when they broke past a 49-52 deficit and moved away, 55-52.
Jamie Malonzo, who had 12 points with Encho Serrano, then took over, with his driving shot and triple in the remaining 1:32 keeping La Salle in front, 61-57.
“It was a tough game for us. After the Ateneo game, we only had two days to prepare. Suwerte kami, we were able to pull through,” said Green Archers’ coach Gian Nazario.
Many of the Green Archers were not in good shape, due to flu and injuries when they the confronted the Warriors, led by Rey Suerte, who top-scored for UE with 17 points.
Later, Angelo Kouame and Thirdy Ravena produced 10 points apiece for the Blue Eagles, who beat the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, 65-55.
Already assured of the top seeding in the Final Four, the Blue Eagles drew nine points from Pat Maagdenberg in posting their 11th straight victory.