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Raven Cortez leads La Salle to Filoil quarterfinals with clutch performance against FEU

Raven Cortez came up clutch at both ends on Monday in San Juan, as De La Salle University fended off a hard-charging Far Eastern University, 81-76, to secure a spot in the quarterfinals of the Filoil EcoOil 17th ECJ Preseason Cup.

With the Tamaraws threatening at 71-73 with two minutes left, Kevin Quiambao hit a jumper before Cortez denied Janrey Pasaol’s layup, gathered the rebound, and then scored on a short stab at the other end.

That two-way flurry took the wind out of FEU’s sails and towed La Salle to its fifth win in a row out of six games.

“Start pa lang naman ng mga training namin, sinasabi na ni coach [Topex Robinson] sa’min kung ano nga ba talaga ‘yung mga roles namin… On my end, I just want to be there on the defensive side,” said Cortez after ending up with a team-high 13 points on top of nine rebounds and two blocks.

Quiambao then added a so-so – for his lofty standards – 12 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists for the Green Archers, who are also assured of the second seed out of the UAAP group for the crossover quarterfinals.

Conversely, La Salle’s archrival Ateneo de Manila University bowed out without picking up a win after it was upended by University of the East, 62-74.

Nigerian Precious Momowei feasted on the Blue Eagles’ undersized frontline for another double-double of 24 points and 18 rebounds.

Momowei was flanked by John Abate, who added 19 points as the Red Warriors ended the eliminations at 4-3, very much in the running for the playoffs of the preseason tournament co-presented by Bostik El Heneral and ABC Tile Adhesive, and sponsored by Smart Sports, Strong Group Athletics, and Hanes.

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Ateneo fumbled in its last try for a taste of victory despite rookie Kristian Porter’s gallant stand of 16 points and nine boards.

FEU (3-3), for its part, needs to win its remaining assignment to have a shot at the next round. Rookie Veejay Pre continued to impress for them with 21 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

Over in the NCAA side, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde also claimed a quarterfinals berth courtesy of a 95-89 victory against Lyceum of the Philippines University.

Riding a massive 20-7 surge all the way to a 69-51 lead late in the third quarter, the Blazers built up enough distance from the pesky Pirates to score their sixth straight win after a loss to open the preseason showcase, also supported by Athletics as official outfitter and Molten as official game ball, as well as minor sponsors Reyes Barbecue, KFC, Brothers Burger, Wallem Philippines Shipping, Harbor Star Shipping Services, Akari, Jiang Nan Hotpot, and KantiGo Sports.

Allen Liwag scored 27 points, grabbed eight boards, and made two assists to ensure Benilde remained atop the NCAA pool. Roger Ondoa also provided 16 points to give Taft Ave. two teams bound for the next round.

Meanwhile, San Beda University and San Sebastian College-Recoletos boosted their respective bids for the playoffs after downing separate rivals.

Behind Bryan Sajonia’s 17 points and two rebounds, the Red Lions shot down Jose Rizal University, 75-62, while the Golden Stags relied on 18 points apiece from Paeng Are and Raymart Escobido to charge through the University of Perpetual Help, 78-71.

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At 5-3, San Beda stands at solo third, but is being chased down by idle 4-3 Emilio Aguinaldo College as well as Perpetual and Mapua University, which sport similar 4-4 slates.

Arellano University (3-4) and San Sebastian (3-5) remain in contention but will need a lot of help from teams above them in the standings. LPU and JRU, meanwhile, are already eliminated.

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