XTRUS TORRES stood at the forefront as Far Eastern University (FEU) weathered a late storm brought by Ateneo de Manila University, 60-54, Friday at Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan for their third consecutive victory in the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.
Torres dropped nine of his 14 points in the last eight minutes to make sure the Tamaraws kept within striking distance for the quarterfinals. Cholo Anonuevo then chipped in 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists, as they improved to 4-3, good for solo fifth in Group II.
“Sinasabi ko lang sa kanila lagi is to play tough defense. Kaya kami nanalo, dahil sa defense e; na kahit ‘di kami maka-execute sa offense, nandun yung effort sa depensa,” said head coach Denok Miranda.
Aside from Torres, no other FEU player scored in the last eight minutes except for Patrick Sleat whose breakaway layup with 5.8 seconds left sealed the deal. Their defense, however, stood strong and forced five turnovers and four misses by the Blue Eagles in the same timeframe.
“Happyng-happy ako sa mga boys. They accepted the challenge. Alam naman ng mga ‘tong medyo hard ako sa mga practice namin, pero eto, parang mini-success na rin para sa’min,” said Miranda.
Ateneo, on the other hand, remained winless in four outings, as Kai Ballungay was its lone player in double-digits with 13 points on top of nine rebounds and two assists.
Lyceum of the Philippines University stretched its streak to five thanks to a smooth-sailing 81-67 triumph over San Beda University.
The Pirates used a 35-point third quarter to run away from the Red Lions all the way to solo second in Group I of the premiere preseason tournament backed by Filoil, EcoOil, Hanes, Akari, Reyes BBQ, BDO, Kalos Sportswear, and Molten. John Barba captained the pivotal period and totaled 22 points, while Enoch Valdez also added 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
“Halftime, chinallege ko lang sila kasi mas aggressive ang kalaban namin nung simula,” said head coach Gilbert Malabanan.
LPU (6-2) can secure a slot in the next round with a win on Monday against College of St. Benilde (5-2), which is in a three-team logjam with Mapua University and Colegio de San Juan de Letran at the third- and fourth-spots.
“Happy kami kung nasaan kami ngayon kasi siyempre, dito sa preseason namin makikita kung gaano na kami kalayo,” said Malabanan.
San Beda, on the other hand, is eliminated with its fifth loss in eight tries. James Payosing showed the way for them with 12 points.
Kevin Santos saved the day for Letran as they rallied by Emilio Aguinaldo College, 55-53.
Inserted with the tally tied at 66-all with 4.9 ticks to go, Santos cleaned up the mess from Kurt Reyson’s high-looping scoop shot to provide the game-winner for the now-5-2 Knights. Those were his only points to go along with six rebounds.
“Actually, I give credit sa mga assistant coaches ko kasi sa kanila yung suggestion na ipasok si Santos. Na-visualize nila yung nangyari at naging effective naman,” said head coach Rensy Bajar after they remained alive and kicking for a quarterfinal berth in Group I.
Letran wouldn’t have come back from as much as 16 points down if not for Pao Javillonar’s 15-point, 10-rebound double-double as well as Nicko Fajardo’s 13 points, four assists, and three rebounds.
For the Generals, Nat Cosejo put forth a strong showing of 22 points and six rebounds only to see his side lose their third in a row and fifth overall out of seven games.
National University barged back into the win column courtesy of a 45-point beatdown on Centro Escolar University, 105-60.
Kean Baclaan pumped in 16 points, two assists, and two rebounds, including eight straight points in a 19-8 burst that blew the game wide open from a 7-all deadlock to a 26-15 edge for the Bulldogs late in the first quarter. Their lead would only keep growing, as they recovered from a loss to the University of the Philippines the last time around and rose to 4-2 in Group II.
“Last time, nag-viewing kami agad ng something to improve on. Yun yung talagang inayos namin kaya buti naman, na-apply namin ngayon,” said head coach Jeff Napa.
Mark Anagbogu paced the Scorpions with 16 points, even as they absorbed their sixth loss in a row following a tourney-opening win.