De La Salle-Zobel stunned top seed National University (NU), 71-60, to stay alive in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 juniors basketball tournament championship showdown on Friday at The Arena in San Juan City.
Marco Sario led the Junior Archers with 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals while Season Most Valuable Player Aljun Melecio contributed 14 markers, nine assists and four boards.
MR Romero also made his presence felt following his double-double output of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
La Salle-Zobel, however, needed to win two more games to claim the title as NU holds a thrice-to-beat card after sweeping the 14-game elimination round.
The Bullpups won in Game 1 (78-58).
The Game 3 will be played on Friday at the same venue with the Bullpups aiming to finish the series while the Junior Archers are hoping to stretch the finals to a do-or-die game.
John Lloyd Clemente led the Bullpups with 25 points and six rebounds, and Justine Baltazar added 15 points and hauled down 20 boards.
The Bullpups scored their lowest field goal shooting this season, making just 19 of their 62 attempts. The bench players also produced season-low seven markers.
La Salle-Zobel, on the other hand, has 41 perimeter points compared to NU’s 14. The Junior Archers got 13 fast break points.
Meanwhile, Melecio formally received his MVP trophy during the awarding ceremony.
Melecio was also part of the Mythical Team along with Baltazar, Clemente, and University of the Philippines Integrated School standouts Javi Gomez de Liano and Juan Gomez de Liano.
EMIL C. NOGUERA