MANILA, Philippines — Kean Baclaan scored 26 points as National University kept Ateneo unbeaten with a 76-69 win in the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Pre-Season Cup on Thursday at the FilOil EcoOil Center in San Juan City.
Baclaan set the pace for the Bulldogs as he dropped nine points in a game that started 20-8 in the first seven minutes. The Blue Eagles shortened the score to 4.26-22, but coach Tab Baldwin was sent off after being slapped with two technical fouls for constantly complaining.
Ateneo still finished the game 57-all at the end of the third inning but Baclaan’s buzzer-beat three-shot burned through 12-4 to take a 69-61 lead with five minutes remaining.
However, the Blue Eagles refused to knock down without a fight to shorten the lead to 6 points, 72-66, in the final 2:30 minutes but John Lloyd Clemente and Mike Malonzo put in finishing touches for Bulldogs for their second straight win to make it 3-1 in Group II.
“We are far from satisfied. We’re here in pre-season to perfect what we want to do. Luckily, my players are ready to step up today,” NU coach Jeff Napa said in Filipino. “I know my players will never be satisfied with their performance either.”
Malonzo scored 8 points and 8 rebounds for NU, while Clemente added 7 points as Baclaan also had 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
Ateneo still won’t win in two matches after one heavy defeat against the University of the Philippines on Wednesday.
Jared Brown leads the Blue Eagles with 13 points, while Jason Credo and Kai Ballungay each have 10 points.
In Group I, the University of Perpetual Help clinched a sixth win to move closer to a straight spot in the quarterfinals after beating Arellano, 94-81.
Arthur Roque dropped 11 of his 20 points in the 4th half and finished with 7 rebounds and 3 saves to take the lead for Altas, as JC Abis scored twice with 13 points and 17 goals to top the group. theirs with a Card 6-1.
Arellano remained without a win in five games despite Lars Sunga’s 25-point effort from the bench. He fired six shots three times and won eight rebounds.
Meanwhile, Far Eastern University relied on Luke Felipe’s 27-point outburst to dominate Faith Colleges of Batangas, 95-58, and reclaim Group 2 victory.
“The team really needs a player like Luke. He is our floor pad. He still has a lot to learn but once he’s found his shot, it just keeps falling,” he said. FEU Coach Denok Miranda of Felipe, who fired seven times three times.
Besides Felipe, Rojan Montemayor also contributed greatly with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists to improve the 2-3 record.
The Bravehearts lost for the sixth time in as many games, even after being 15 points ahead of Lloyd Dimalaya.
San Beda overcame a 10-point deficit in the second quarter before beating Emilio Aguinaldo College, 84-78, with Emman Tagle leading the way with 24 points, 5 bounces, 3 assists and 2 steals.
Transfer player Bryan Sajonia also shone with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals as the Red Lions took a 2-3 lead in Group I.
“In a way, I can say that I am satisfied. But again, we were far from the team we wanted to be. We are using the naman pre-season tournaments to give all the players a chance to compete,” said San Beda coach Yuri Escueta.
Nat Cosejo and Joshua Tolentino each scored 16 points for the Grandmasters, who were 2-3 ahead.
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