MANILA, Philippines -- De La Salle University may not be at 100% heading into their UAAP Season 84 Final 4 match-up against the University of the Philippines.
Star center Justine Baltazar and swingman Deschon Winston are both day-to-day with injuries, La Salle head coach Derrick Pumaren confirmed. Neither played in the Green Archers' last elimination round game against National University on Sunday.
Even without their two top scorers, La Salle had enough to defeat the Bulldogs, 76-65, and formally oust them from the Final 4 picture.
"Si Balti, na-sprain noong last game. And then Deschon, he did not play also noong game prior to the last game. He has problems with his back," Pumaren said.
"Ngayon ganoon pa rin, there's still tightness. So the PT decided not to use him. It was a game-to-game decision, and for today's game, medyo hindi talaga namin ginamit na, kasi hindi kaya eh," he added.
Baltazar played through a sprain in La Salle's 64-51 victory against Adamson University last Thursday, contributing six points. In their previous game against Far Eastern University, Winston sat out due to back spasms and the Green Archers were beaten, 67-62.
Pumaren said there is still swelling on Baltazar's ankle and he will be evaluated on a daily basis.
"It's gonna be a day-to-day basis, kung anong situation. Hopefully, we'll be aggressive when we do therapy sa kanya, just to be able for him to play on Wednesday," he added.
Winston is La Salle's leading scorer in Season 84, putting up 12.83 points, 4.08 rebounds, and 2.08 assists per game. Baltazar, in his final season with the Green Archers, is averaging a double-double of 12.69 points and 10.46 rebounds per contest, along with 3.0 assists per game.
With both stars less than 100%, Pumaren is counting on his other players to step up the way they did against the Bulldogs. It was Joaqui Manuel who led La Salle against NU, with 20 points on 6-of-14 shooting, while Mike Phillips had his usual double-double of 15 points and 15 rebounds. Evan Nelle tallied a season-best 11 assists along with seven points.
"We will need everybody on board," said Pumaren, as their team will be at a twice-to-beat disadvantage against the Fighting Maroons. "For us to make it all the way and to have a good showing in the playoffs, it has to be a total team effort."
"We cannot just be relying on one, two guys. Everybody should be able to contribute, whether they're playing two, three minutes, or 20 minutes. Everybody must contribute to bring us to the next round," he stressed.