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Justine Baltazar leads Pampanga Delta to NBL three-peat


SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — Justine Baltazar made sure that his last game in the Philippines for a while will be memorable.

The 6-foot-7 Kabalen powered Pampanga to a sweep of Bulacan DF in the 2022 National Basketball League-Pilipinas President’s Cup, capping its sensational season with an 86-83 win, Sunday at Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center here.

Unlike their 101-91 Game One last Friday, the Delta needed to dig deep to clinch their third straight crown in the professional league for homegrown players.

Down 77-78 midway through the final frame, Mark Tamayo knocked down a cold-blooded trey to spark Pampanga.

Though Earnest Reyes was able to tie things up later on after sinking a couple of free throws, Tamayo once again drilled a triple with 2:54 remaining followed by an MJ Garcia jumper to give their side a five-point cushion.

Marlon Monte tried to give life to the Republicans but huge defensive stops in the endgame by the Delta sealed the win.

“Wala talagang sigurado sa mga homegrown na liga and Bulacan gave us a good fight,” said Delta head coach Gov. Delta Pineda. “Kahit saang liga man kami mapunta, sisiguraduhin naming nasa taas ang ating probinsya.”

Baltazar was hailed Finals MVP after averaging 29.5 points, 18.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks in the series.

Garcia led the way for Delta in the contest, finishing with 24 points, six assists, and six rebounds while Matt De Leon and Tamayo chipped in 12 and 10 markers, respectively.

Monte was at the forefront of Bulacan DF’s gallant stand, producing 17 points and nine rebounds. Reyes got 15 points while Julius Lorenzo added 13 markers.

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It was also the third title for the Delta this conference.

Pampanga’s under-19 team won the division after taking down SJDM Yengskivel, 85-70, earlier in the day.

Justine Bautista led Pampanga with 18 points built on three treys. Joshua Miclat (12 points), Andrew Dungo (11 points), and Joseph Nunag (10 rebounds) also contributed in the win.

In the 14-under division, Pampanga defeated Emeralds Academy, 69-43, last June 11.

Kenji Moral led Pampanga with 17 points and eight rebounds while Gabriel Mercado tallied 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and three steals.

Pampanga could not complete a sweep as its 14-under team fell to United Ballers, 75-76, after Liam Salangsang nailed the game-winner in the dying seconds of the contest.

Salangsang finished the game with 20 points.

Alexis Bautista led Pampanga with 22 points while CJ Pineda got 10 points and eight rebounds.

Written By

College student in San Beda University, part of the San Beda Red Sea Lions Swim Team, and likes watching anime


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