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Melecio leads way in UAAP juniors as eliminations near end

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--With a reunion project with former Jr. NBA mentor Aldin Ayo and an interesting team-up with Jeron Teng and Andrei Caracut looming, Aljun Melecio continues to make waves three-fourths into the UAAP juniors basketball season.

The La Salle-Zobel Junior Archer, who recently committed to his team's seniors counterparts next season, is making a strong case for the MVP award as he leads the league in scoring and steals while also making the top ten in two other categories.

In a copy of the individual statistics from UAAP chief statistician Pong Ducanes obtained by Dugout Philippines on Thursday, the 5-9 guard zoomed past everybody in points after 11 games, averaging 24 markers a game, way ahead of NSNU's John Lloyd Clemente (17.6) and Ateneo's Jolo Mendoza (16.9).

He also tops the steals department, averaging 2.5 loots an outing, ahead of FEU-FERN's Jun Gabane (1.9) and L.J. Gonzales (1.6).

Despite his small frame, he still gets to grab rebounds this season, taking 7.2 caroms a match, good for a tie for seventh with fellow Junior Archer M.R. Romero.

Melecio, who played facilitator in some games in La Salle-Zobel's campaign, dished out 3.5 assists a game, tying Ateneo's S.J. Belangel in sixth place in the said category.

Meanwhile, NSNU's Justine Baltazar is making his inside presence felt, averaging a double-double while leading the league in blocks too.

Baltazar is playing the leader's role for the sweep-seeking Bullpups, tallying 12.8 points and league-topping numbers of 12.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks a ballgame.

NSNU leads the league in the standings with an 11-0 record with three matchdays left, while La Salle-Zobel is in second with a 9-2 slate.

Ateneo (7-4), FEU-FERN, and Adamson (both at 6-5) are in a wild chase for the third seed, while UST (3-8) may be needing a miracle run to keep its Final Four hopes alive. UP (2-9) and UE (0-11) are already out of contention.

Matchday 12 takes place on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno