#UAAP77Jrs February 9, 2015 Roundup: Bullpups send Junior Archers packing, will face Eaglets in Finals.

A few days after blasting the Adamson Baby Falcons in the playoff for the second seed, the National University Bullpups trounced the De La Salle-Zobel Junior Archers, 61-45, to book the final seat in the UAAP Season 77 Juniors Division Championship series opposite the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eaglets.

Jordan Sta. Ana goes up strong against the Zobel D.

After a lackluster second round where they went on to lose four of seven games, coach Jeff Napa’s wards seem to have finally regained their true form, winning their last two crucial assignments by an average of 21.5 points. 

In this one against the upstart Junior Archers, who were hoping to force a KO match on Friday, it wasn’t star frontliner Mark Dyke who dominated, but, rather, wingman John Clemente and 6’5 Justine Baltazar (both of whom are products of the hoops hotbed of Pampanga). Clemente paced the Bullpups’ offense, dropping 14 points on 6/11 FG shooting while also grabbing 5 rebounds and handing out 3 assists. Baltazar, meanwhile, started at the slot and was practically unstoppable, hitting 6 of his 8 field goals for 13 markers and hauling down 11 boards, and that’s on top of 2 blocks. Dyke, for his part, pocketed 9 points but he did collar 13 caroms. Point guard Philip Manalang was also effective, registering 9 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals as NU led by as many as 19 points. 

It was pretty much a one-sided affair from the opening tip as the Bullpups outscored Zobel by 10 after the first ten minutes and kept their green-hued foes at bay for the rest of the match. NU dominated the battle of the boards, 54-41, and limited the Junior Archers to under 23% FG shooting, which compensated for their 25 turnovers. 

Coach Boris Aldeguer’s boys had a great run this season, but, in the end, they just didn’t have enough depth to go toe-to-toe with a team as stacked as NU. Top guns Aljun Melecio and Quinito Banzon paired up for 29 points, but they shot a combined 10/42 from the floor. Nobody outside of those guys scored more than 4 markers. Fancied forward Noah Webb also struggled, missing all his field goals, though he did grab 9 boards. Many of coach Aldeguer’s wards, however, will return next season, so they should be among the contenders once again.

Check out the #UAAP77Jrs Finals, which will begin this Friday, February 13, 2015, at the San Juan Arena. This is the first time the Juniors games will not be held at the Blue Eagle Gym this season. The Finals series is a best-of-five affair, though Ateneo goes into it carrying a 1-0 advantage by virtue of sweeping the elimination rounds.

John Lloyd Clemente stepped up as NU eliminated DLSZ.

Justine Baltazar dominated in the paint for the Bullpups.

Quinito Banzon's touch has improved this season. He's one to watch.

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