La Salle tightens UAAP playoff race with win over UE

MANILA — All of a sudden, La Salle is now a Final Four contender.

Following an up-and-down start to their UAAP men’s basketball season, the Green Archers now find themselves in the thick of things for the last two semifinal spots after edging the UE Red Warriors, 65-59, on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

La Salle turned things around in the final frame, outscoring UE, 23-13, anchored by key baskets late to hold its gritty opponent off.

Balti Baltazar made 23 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists for the Green Archers, who tied the UST Growling Tigers and the FEU Tamaraws for third place at 5-5.

FEU and UST, however, have a chance to move up the standings as they are taking on Ateneo and University of the Philippines, respectively, later Wednesday.

Jamie Malonzo and Encho Serrano each added 12 markers.

Rey Suerte made 17 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two blocks for the Red Warriors, who fell to 3-8.

The scores:

LA SALLE 65 — Baltazar 23, Malonzo 12, Serrano 12, Bates 9, Melecio 4, Manuel 3, Caracut 2, Cagulangan 0, Cu 0, Lim 0

UE 59 — Suerte 17, Manalang 14, Diakhite 11, Conner 9, Mendoza 7, Apacible 1, Antiporda 0, Beltran 0, Camacho 0, Cruz 0, Pagsanjan 0, Tolentino 0

QUARTERSCORES: 14-13, 26-28, 42-46, 65-59 Ivan Stewart Saldajeno/PNA-