National University (NU) will be shooting for its sixth title when it faces De La Salle-Zobel in Game 3 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 juniors basketball finals at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Bullpups-Junior Archers game is at 2 p.m.
Armed with thrice-to-beat advantage, the Bullpups need one more win to formally clinch the title.
They beat the Junior Archers in Game 1, 78-58.
But La Salle-Zobel spoiled NU’s celebration with a 71-60 win in Game 2 last week.
The Junior Archers, however, must win two more games to win the series.
Veterans John Lloyd Clemente and Justine Baltazar will be leading NU’s charge along with Rhayyan Amsali, Karl Penano and Wilderlich Coyoca.
Clemente had 25 points and six rebounds in their last game while Baltazar came out with a double-double effort of 15 points and 20 boards.
La Salle-Zobel, aiming to force a rubber match, must stop the combo of Clemente and Baltazar.
“We have to limit his (Baltazar) points and limit the other guys from rebounding as well,” stressed La Salle-Zobel coach Boris Aldeguer, who will be relying on Aljun Melecio – the season’s Most Valuable Player.
Melecio averaged 14.5 points, 7.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds in the series.
Marco Sario, who scored 16 markers, and MR Romero, who delivered a double-double output of 14 points and 10 boards, were also providing the needed backup for the Junior Archers.
“MR (Romero) just played right from within the game plan. We told him to get ready to shoot because we knew that every time Aljun (Melecio) would attack his screen, they would go after him. It worked to perfection,” added Aldeguer.
If La Salle-Zobel wins, the do-or-die game will be played on March 11 at the same venue.
EMIL C. NOGUERA