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Filoil: Perpetual snatches Group I top seed from Letran

University of Perpetual Help successfully fended off Colegio de San Juan de Letran to secure the top seed in Group I of the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.

The Altas achieved this with a well-earned 81-68 victory on Friday at San Juan’s Filoil EcoOil Centre.

The two heavyweight teams battled fiercely throughout the first three quarters. However, Jielo Razon’s exceptional performance saw him score all but five points in the Altas’ 14-4 blitz. That propelled them to turn a two-point lead early in the fourth period into a commanding 78-66 advantage with under three minutes remaining.

The Altas maintained their momentum until the final buzzer, securing a spot in the quarterfinals.

“I’ll take this win. Sa coaching career ko sa NCAA, (Letran) na lang yung team na ‘di ko natatalo. Dun naging sweet,” said head coach Myk Saguiguit after ensuring a 7-2 record to conclude the elimination round.

On his birthday, Razon contributed 19 points, three rebounds, and two assists. Arthur Roque recorded 19 points and nine rebounds, while Christian Pagaran amassed 15 points and five rebounds.

Perpetual now awaits the results of the tournament’s play-in tournament starting next Wednesday.

The Knights, on the other hand, fell to the fourth seed due to having worse quotients than fellow 6-3 teams College of St. Benilde (no. 2) and Lyceum of the Philippines University (no. 3).

Kurt Reyson made an impressive effort, scoring 24 points and providing three assists and two rebounds, in an attempt to secure the top seed for the three-peat NCAA champions. Kevin Santos also contributed with 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.

However, they now face the play-in stage, with Luzon qualifier Guang Ming College as their first opponent.

In Group II, the four spots have been determined after National University halted Far Eastern University’s momentum with a 73-67 victory.

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In their usual Bulldogs fashion, National University relied on a total team effort to rally from an 18-point deficit late in the first half. They were still trailing by seven points, 43-50, at the 6:12 mark of the third quarter. However, they unleashed a 15-0 run, suddenly taking a 58-50 lead early in the final frame.

“Alam ko naman kung anong capability ng team na ‘to. They will rely on each other whatever happens. Yun naman yung pinakita ng team at masaya ako dun,” said head coach Jeff Napa.

The Tamaraws narrowed the gap to 65-67 with 4:30 remaining, but the National U defense clamped down. Steve Nash Enriquez eventually sealed the deal with four points in an 8-2 finishing run. E

nriquez finished with 11 points, while Jake Figueroa contributed 11 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.

Despite finishing the elimination round with a 7-2 record, the Bulldogs settled for the third seed due to a loss against the University of the Philippines, which also held a 7-2 record. They will face Group I’s second seed, Benilde, in the quarterfinals.

On the other hand, FEU finished in a triple-tie at 5-4. However, they advanced to the next round by virtue of having the best quotient among Adamson University and St. Clare College of Caloocan.

They will face VisMin qualifier Jose Maria College Foundation of Davao in their first match-up.

Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila University secured its fourth consecutive win following a 0-5 start to the tourney at the expense of luckless St. Clare, 57-52.

Sean Quitevis showed the way with 13 points, seven rebounds, and three steals, including a trey in the last two minutes that allowed the Blue Eagles to ward off the Saints for good. Kai Ballungay contributed nine points, six rebounds, and two steals and Josh Lazaro chimed in eight points and four rebounds as well to help the UAAP champions salvage a fine finish.

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“We definitely had a lot of learnings from our games, not just the wins, but the losses also. We feel they’re as important. We saw the improvement of our players throughout,” said assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga, talking for shot-caller Tab Baldwin.

Ateneo had long been eliminated due to their slow start, and now look ahead to a training trip in Australia and then a title defense in the World University Basketball Series in Japan.

“If you compare us to other teams, you can certainly say our performance leaves a lot to be desired. That’s true,” said Arespacochaga. “Our participation here has shown us a lot of weaknesses and strengths to build on. Hopefully, we continue to improve day-by-day in practice.”

St. Clare, meantime, just fell short against a UAAP power for the fourth straight game. Ahron Estacio fronted their effort with 12 points, four assists, and two rebounds, as they wrap up their run with a 4-5 record in Group II.

Jose Rizal University closed out its campaign with four consecutive victories, the latest a 78-65 rout of Arellano University.

Agem Miranda had his best outing with 12 points and eight rebounds, as Theo Pabico and Patrick Ramos chipped in 14 and 11, respectively. At 5-4, the Heavy Bombers finished fifth and just outside the Group I playoff picture in the premiere preseason tournament backed by Filoil, EcoOil, Hanes, Akari, Reyes BBQ, BDO, Kalos Sportswear, and Molten.

“Alam naman namin na, at first, magulo pa talaga. Pero I’m so happy na as the season progressed, lalo nung dulo nung nakasama na yung veterans namin, naging maganda yung takbo namin,” said head coach Louie Gonzalez, talking about how they let the likes of Miranda, JL Delos Santos, and Marwin Dionisio to play in the MPBL at first before integrating them back later in the tourney.

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Jade Talampas did the heavy lifting for the Chiefs with 17 points and eight rebounds, as they bowed out with no wins in nine tries.

The Scores:

First Game:
Perpetual 81 – Roque 19, Razon 19, Pagaran 15, Abis 12, Boral 3, Ramirez 3, Ferreras 3, Nitura 2, Barcuma 2, Cuevas 2, Sevivlla 1, Nunez 0, Gelsano 0, Orgo 0
Letran 68 – Reyson 24, Santos 12, Cuajao 10, Go 10, Alarcon 4, Fajardo 3, Tolentino 3, Javillonar 2, Ariar 0, Nunag 0, Bojorcelo 0, Guarino 0, Bautista 0, Miclat 0, Morales 0
Quarterscores: 17-20, 36-39, 60-53, 81-68

Second Game:
NU 73 – Figueroa 11, Enriquez 11, Palacielo 8, Malonzo 7, Manansala 7, Yu 7, John 6, Baclaan 6, Lim 6, Diassana 4, Gulapa 0, Parks 0, Casinillo 0
FEU 67 – Faty 14, Montemayor 14, Bagunu 9, Anonuevo 7, Alforque 7, Felipe 4, Pasaol 4, Sleat 2, Ona 2, Macapagal 2, Songcuya 2, Guibao 0
Quarterscores: 19-32, 39-44, 56-50, 73-67

Third Game:
JRU 78 – Pabico 14, Miranda 12, Ramos 11, Argente 10, De Leon 9, Guiab 8, Dionisio 4, Dela Rosa 3, Mosqueda 2, Medina 2, Arenal 2, Sy 1, Delos Santos 0, Sarmiento 0
Arellano 65 – Talampas 17, Mallari 15, Villarente 7, Valencia 7, Oftana 6, Bagay 5, Dela Cruz 4, Antonio 2, Abastillas 2, Camay 0, Rosalin 0, Lustina 0, Domingo 0, Anama 0
Quarterscores: 22-18, 42-33, 60-46, 78-65

Fourth Game:
Ateneo 57 – Quitevis 13, Ballungay 9, Lazaro 8, Obasa 7, Credo 4, Gomez 4, Padrigao 4, Chiu 3, Nieto 3, Tuano 2, Espinosa 0, Ong 0
St. Clare 52 – Estacio 12, Galang 9, Estrada 9, Angeles 7, Tapenio 6, Ndong 4, Sual 3, Kane 2, Decano 0, Acosta 0, Yanes 0, Cabauatan 0
Quarterscores: 20-10, 31-23, 43-33, 57-52

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