NATIONAL University (NU) routed De La Salle-Zobel, 80-57, to clinch the outright championship berth in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 78 juniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City on Saturday.
Justine Baltazar tallied his 11th double-double of the season with 18 points and the same number of rebounds to power the Bullpups in finishing eliminations with a perfect 14-0 record.
Seeking to regain the crown it won two years ago, NU also bagged the thrice-to-beat incentive for sweeping the double-round eliminations.
After a 10-point first quarter, Aljun Melecio was held to eight points the rest of way as the Junior Warriors settled for second place with an 11-3 card. Defending champion Ateneo de Manila University blasted Far Eastern University (FEU)-Diliman, 78-53, to cap the elims at solo third with a 10-4 slate. Jolo Mendoza came through with 17 points highlighted by a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the distance for the Blue Eaglets. The Baby Tamaraws, who were paced by Eric Jabel’s 12 markers, wound up in fourth with an 8-6 card.
The stepladder semifinals starts at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the same venue, with Ateneo and FEU battling in a do-or-die match for the right to face twice-to-beat De La Salle-Zobel.
Adamson defeated University of Santo Tomas, 77-63, to end its season in fifth place with a even 7-7 mark, while University of the Philippines Integrated School scored a 99-79 rout of University of the East for a 2-12 card in seventh.
The Junior Warriors finished winless for the second straight season.