Published on September 19th, 2018 | by Gabriel Minamedez0
Baltazar, DLSU brave Bulldogs’ bite
It was a test of endurance for the De La Salle Green Archers, as a seesaw affair with the NU Bulldogs ended with a first win for the Green and White, 80-76, on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Albeit the victory, it was not a friendly start for the Archers, as the first quarter began with a barrage of points from a multitude of Bulldogs, including consecutive buckets from NU rookies Troy Rike and John Lloyd Clemente to balloon the NU lead. A pull-up jumper from JV Gallego sank La Salle to a 14-25 trail early on, only to be corked by a Kib Montalbo score to cut the lead down to 9. It was an indication of an uphill battle for La Salle.
In the second quarter, though, the Archers came alive. The Taft-based squad scored six straight points to open the quarter, including two consecutive push shots from Santi Santillan to get La Salle within five. From then on, it was a back and forth between the two teams, as an array of players, highlighted by Troy Rike, Dave Ildefonso from NU and Justine Baltazar, Joaqui Manuel from La Salle. Ultimately, DLSU was able to cut the lead down to 3 by halftime.
It was familiar ground once again to start the third quarter, with both teams in a tug-of-war for the coveted lead. In the 7-minute mark of the quarter, Baltazar was able to hit a three to cut the lead down to single digits, and that shot would be the play that ignited the Green Archers to pull away. Baltazar and Melecio would combine for 9 points in the following minutes. A three from Jollo Go at the tail end of the quarter set the La Salle fans in the arena alive, as the guard sank a trio of treys in that frame to give the Archers a 63-57 lead entering the final stretch.
Despite giving up a big lead, the Bulldogs didn’t let up. A 7-0 run, capped off by a three-point play from John Lloyd Clemente cut the Archer lead down to one. Eventually, NU was able to regain a lead, as Shaun Ildefonso hit a couple of crucial mid range jumpers and Troy Rike finished off a beautiful play to swing the game back to NU, 76-74. La Salle was able to call on the help from the free throw line, as a couple of freebies from Melecio tied the match at 76-all. Rike was able to miss his two free throws to give La Salle a shot at regaining the lead, and regain they did as big man Justine Baltazar hit an ice cold jumper to give the lead back to the Green and White. The Bulldogs ran out of answers, giving La Salle its first win of the season, 80-76.
Justine Baltazar, aside from hitting the game winner, posted a huge double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds. Aljun Melecio topscored for DLSU with 19 markers of his own. Santi Santillan and Jollo Go added 10 apiece off the bench.
The Sampaloc-based Bulldogs were led by rookie Dave Ildefonso, who scored 16. Fellow rookies Troy Rike and John Lloyd Clemente chipped in a combined 27 points.
With the victory, La Salle is able to barge into the win column, bouncing back from a close opening weekend loss to FEU.
The Green Archers will look to start their first winning streak of the season when they face the winless UE Red Warriors on Sunday, September 23 at the FilOil Flying V Arena.