MANILA, Philippines — Kean Baclaan poured in 26 points as National University kept Ateneo winless with a 76-69 victory in the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup on Thursday at FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.
Baclaan set the pace for the Bulldogs as he dropped nine points in their 20-8 start in the first seven minutes. The Blue Eagles trimmed it down to four, 26-22, but coach Tab Baldwin was thrown out after getting slapped with two technical fouls in succession for continuous complaining.
Ateneo still tied the game at 57-all late in the third but Baclaan’s buzzer-beating triple ignited a 12-4 run for a 69-61 lead with five minutes left in the game.
The Blue Eagles, however, refused to go down without a fight cutting it down to a six-point game, 72-66, in the final 2:30 mark but John Lloyd Clemente and Mike Malonzo put on the finishing touches for the Bulldogs for their second straight win to improve to a 3-1 card in Group II.
“We’re far from satisfied. We’re here in the preseason to perfect the things we want to do. Luckily, my players are willing to step up today,” said NUcoach Jeff Napa in Filipino. “I know my players will never be satisfied with their performance, too.”
Malonzo chipped in eight points and eight rebounds for NU, while Clemente added seven points as Baclaan also had six assists and five rebounds.
Ateneo remained winless in two games following a blowout loss to University of the Philippines on Wednesday.
Jared Brown propelled the Blue Eagles with 13 points, while Jason Credo and Kai Ballungay chipped in 10 points each.
In Group I, University of Perpetual Help earned its sixth win to inch closer to earning an outright quarterfinals berth after beating Arellano, 94-81.
Arthur Roque dropped 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and finished with seven rebounds and three blocks to lead the way for the Altas, as JC Abis put up a double-double of 13 points and 17 boards to stay on top of their group with a 6-1 card.
Arellano remained winless in five games despite Lars Sunga’s 25-point effort from the bench. He fired six triples and grabbed eight rebounds.
Meanwhile, Far Eastern University banked on Luke Felipe’s 27-point explosion to dominate Faith Colleges of Batangas, 95-58, and regain its winning ways in Group 2.
“The team really needs a player like Luke. He is our floor-spacer. He still has a lot to learn but once he finds his shot, it will continue to fall,” said FEU coach Denok Miranda of Felipe, who fired seven triples.
Besides Felipe, Rojan Montemayor was also instrumental with 15 points, nine rebounds, and three assists for an improved 2-3 record.
The Bravehearts lost for the sixth time in as many games, even after a 15-point outing from Lloyd Dimalaya.
San Beda overcame a 10-point second-quarter deficit before beating Emilio Aguinaldo College, 84-78, with Emman Tagle showing the way with 24 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Transferee Bryan Sajonia also shone with 23 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals as the Red Lions rose to 2-3 in Group I.
“In a way, I can say I’m satisfied. But again, we’re far from the team we want to be. We’re using the preseason leagues naman to give all the players the opportunity to play,” said San Beda coach Yuri Escueta.
Nat Cosejo and Joshua Tolentino scored 16 points apiece for the Generals, who dropped to 2-3.
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