Matthew Montebon’s buzzer-beating three-pointer from the top of the key left shocked Ateneo de Manila University on Sunday, propelling Adamson University to a thrilling 61-60 come-from-behind win in the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.
Montebon’s cold-blooded triple capped off the Soaring Falcons’ 20-1 run in the last seven minutes, as they overcame a disappointing first half that saw them shoot 5-of-23 from the field and commit 11 turnovers.
“It was the coach’s halftime speech. He got on all of us. We started slow, so he reminded us that without our leaders, we had to step up and pick it up,” said Montebon, who finished a perfect 5-of-5 for 13 points, along with two assists and two rebounds.
Still without lead guards Jerom Lastimosa and Joem Sabandal, Adamson fell behind by as much as 27, 18-45, early in the third quarter, and then by 18, 41-59, with 6:52 to go. However, at that point, they switched to a zone defense and stifled the Blue Eagles, forcing them into seven missed field goals and six turnovers for the rest of the game.
Ateneo’s only score during that time was Ian Espinosa’s free throw that put them up by two, 61-59, before Montebon took matters into his own hands with the game-winning trey over Gab Gomez’s outstretched arms.
“I saw that there were five seconds left. I was trying to get someone a shot, but I lost the ball. I realized I only had a couple of seconds left, so I just shot it,” said Montebon. “Yeah, it’s probably the biggest shot of my career.”
John Calisay also contributed 10 points and three rebounds for the Soaring Falcons, keeping their hopes alive for a quarterfinals berth with a 4-4 record in Group II.
On the other hand, the shocking loss dropped the Blue Eagles to 0-5, eliminating them from contention in the premier preseason tournament supported by Filoil, EcoOil, Hanes, Akari, Reyes BBQ, BDO, Kalos Sportswear, and Molten. Kai Ballungay’s 13 points and five rebounds led them in the losing effort.
Meanwhile, Kean Baclaan scored the last five points as National University completed a comeback from a 21-point deficit to secure a hard-earned 82-79 triumph over St. Clare College of Caloocan on Sunday at Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan, claiming a share of second place in Group II.
The Saints were in complete control in the first half and were still ahead by two, 79-77, with 40.5 seconds remaining until Baclaan’s runner over Babakar Ndong tied the game. Following a defensive stop, the Bulldogs once again put the ball in the hands of their playmaker, who rose for the difference-making three-pointer over Ahron Estacio.
St. Clare still had 5.7 seconds left, but Baclaan, Steve Nash Enriquez, and Jake Figueroa prevented Jimboy Estrada and then Estacio from taking a shot.
“Yung pagiging leader nitong dalawa, at least ngayon, nakita. Nag-step up talaga sila,” said head coach Jeff Napa after they dug themselves out of a 26-47 hole early in the second period.
Baclaan finished with 19 points and three assists, while Enriquez contributed 12 points and four assists of his own, helping the Bulldogs improve their record to 5-2, tied with idle the University of the Philippines for the second spot.
“‘Di naman ako nag-worry. Alam ko naman yung capability ng team. Masama yung first half namin, pero sigurado akong makakabawi kami,” said Enriquez.
Estacio led the Saints in scoring with 17 points and added five assists, while Estrada and Megan Galang each contributed 16 points. With back-to-back losses following a 4-1 start to the tournament, they dropped to fifth place.
Taking their place in the top four of Group II is Far Eastern University, which claimed its fourth consecutive victory, but not without avoiding disaster against Centro Escolar University in a 79-70 decision. Five Tamaraws scored in double digits, led by Patrick Sleat’s 16 points along with five assists and four rebounds. The Tamaraws started strong with a 30-8 opening salvo but found themselves on the wrong end of the Scorpions’ 32-11 counter in the second quarter.
“Nag-relax yung mga bata e, kaya nakahabol. Oo, nanalo kami, pero andami naming mali. At the end of the day, ang nagsalba na naman sa’min is yung depensa namin,” said head coach Denok Miranda after discussing with his assistants for 15 minutes even as they rose to 5-3.
FEU held onto a four-point lead, 66-62, early in the final quarter, and their defense tightened while Sleat and Xyrus Torres took charge of the offense, leading to a 9-2 run and a 75-64 lead that secured the victory. On the other hand, CEU suffered its seventh straight loss, dropping to a 1-7 record, despite Ayodeji Balogun’s 18-point, 14-rebound double-double.
Finally, Jose Rizal University defeated College of St. Benilde 81-68 in a rematch after their previous NCAA contest was called off due to a brawl. Ry Dela Rosa and Shawn Argente each scored 12 points, all coming from three-pointers, as the Heavy Bombers sank 12 triples to secure their second win in six games. In November of the previous year, their face-off was halted after JRU’s John Amores threw punches at Benilde’s Mark Sangco, Jimboy Pasturan, and Taine Davis.
“Siyempre, nasa likod pa rin ng isipan ng mga bata yung nangyari kaya mahirap talaga,” said assistant coach Alex Callueng, speaking for shot-caller Louie Gonzalez. “Pero lagi lang naming nire-remind sa kanila na this season, gagawin naming motivation na maglaro nang tama.”
The Heavy Bombers showed their determination from the beginning, going toe-to-toe with the Blazers in the first half before unleashing a 25-9 run in the third quarter to turn a one-point, 46-45 lead into a commanding 71-54 advantage. Their lead would grow as large as 18 points, 74-56, early in the final quarter, leading to a much-needed bounce-back win.
Meanwhile, Benilde (5-3) dropped to fifth place in Group I’s tight race for the quarterfinals. Miggy Corteza led them in scoring with 18 points and six rebounds.
FEU 79 – Sleat 16, Anonuevo 12, Torres 11, Faty 10, Bagunu 10, Songcuya 6, Ona 5, Pasaol 4, Montemayor 3, Macapagal 2, Felipe 0, Buenaventura 0
CEU 70 – Balogun 18, Marcelo 12, Cabotaje 11, Malicana 11, Santos 8, Puray 4, Joson 4, Reyes 2, Anagbogu 0, Diaz 0, Darbin 0, Penano 0, Ferrer 0
Quarterscores: 30-8, 41-40, 60-57, 79-70
NU 82 – Baclaan 19, John 15, Enriquez 12, Figueroa 9, Manansala 9, Malonzo 8, Padrones 4, Palacielo 3, Lim 3, Clemente 0, Parks 0, Jumamoy 0, Gulapa 0, Perciano 0, Casinillo 0
St. Clare 79 – Estacio 17, Galang 16, Estrada 16, Tapenio 8, Kane 8, Sual 6, Ndong 4, Acosta 4, Victoriano 0, Decano 0, Balacaoc 0, Burgos 0
Quarterscores: 21-28, 34-52, 60-64, 82-79
JRU 81 – Dela Rosa 12, De Leon 12, Argente 12, Delos Santos 8, Ramos 8, Pabico 7, Miranda 6, Barrera 6, Guiab 5, Sarmiento 3, Mosqueda 2, Arenal 0, Sy 0
Benilde 68 – Corteza 18, Oczon 15, Nayve 12, Mara 6, Cajucom 6, Carlos 5, Sangco 2, Sumabat 2, Serrano 2, Marasigan 0, Flores 0, Baliquig 0, Arciaga 0, Dimayuga 0
Quarterscores: 20-23, 46-41, 71-54, 81-68
Adamson 61 – Montebon 13, Calisay 10, Manzano 9, Ramos 8, Hanapi 5, Magbuhos 3, Erolon 3, Canete 3, Torres 3, Anabo 2, Ignacio 2, Colonia 0, Barasi 0, Sicat 0, Fuentebella 0
Ateneo 60 – Ballungay 13, Espinosa 9, Nieto 9, Lazaro 8, Gomez 7, Bongo 4, Obasa 4, Quitevis 3, Nwabude 3, Chiu 0, Tuano 0
Quarterscores: 6-13, 16-36, 35-52, 61-60