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Brilliant Baclaan tows NU to tough win vs Ateneo

Kean Baclaan erupted for 26 points to lead the Bulldogs. FilOil EcoOil Sports
By Mon Anthony L. Valmoria

MANILA—Kean Baclaan proved to be the difference as the National University (NU) Bulldogs dispatched a rusty Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles team 76-69 in the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City, Thursday.

The 5-foot-8 heady guard had an ultra-efficient game, scoring 26 points on 4-5 shooting from three and 9-14 overall from the field. He added six assists and five rebounds to his name as he finished with a game-high plus-21 efficiency rating. Baclaan's three consecutive jumpers bridging the end of the third and fourth quarters was the separation NU needed to put away Ateneo.

NU pounced on a rusty Ateneo squad early which was reeling from a beat down against UP yesterday. Behind mainstays Baclaan, Clemente, and Figueroa, the Bulldogs built an early 20-8 lead before the Blue Eagles righted the ship to make 20-18 after the first quarter.

However, the reigning UAAP champions showed why they are still figuring things out in their second game of the tournament as they fell behind by 11, 44-33 at halftime. 

To add to their struggles, head coach Tab Baldwin got ejected from the game midway thru the second quarter after being assessed his second technical foul of the game.

"Far from satisfied pa rin kami. Siyempre, nandito kami sa preseason para ma-perfect namin kung anong gusto naming mangyari. Luckily, kahit papaano, willing to step up ang mga players today," said NU head coach Jeff Napa.

Jared Brown led the Blue Eagles with 13 points while Kai Ballungay and Jason Credo added 10 points each in Ateneo's losing effort.

In Group I action, University of Perpetual Help gutted out another 94-81 victory over Arellano University for its sixth win to close in on an outright quarterfinals berth.

Arthur Roque scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, to go with seven rebounds and three blocks, while JC Abis had a double-double of 13 points and 17 boards as the Altas improved to a still-group-best 6-1.

"Umaangat na yung growth ng mga bata. Reward para sa amin yung mga panalong ganito," said head coach Myk Saguiguit.

Lars Sunga carried the Chiefs (0-5) with 25 points off the bench built on six treys, to go with eight rebounds in another losing effort.

Meanwhile, Far Eastern University routed Faith Colleges of Batangas, 95-58, to get back on track in Group II.

The Tamaraws charged to a 17-2 start in the first four minutes before Luke Felipe took over and totaled 27 points built on seven triples. They also got 15 points, nine rebounds, and three assists from Rojan Montemayor in their wire-to-wire win that hikes their record to 2-3.

"Si Luke, kailangang-kailangan ko 'to e. Floor-spacer namin 'to e. Marami pang kailangang matutunan, pero kung naka-shoot na 'to, tuloy-tuloy na yan," said head coach Denok Miranda of his rookie wing who was part of FEU-Diliman's title team in UAAP 85 boys basketball.

The Braveheats lost for the sixth time in as many games, even after a 15-point outing from Lloyd Dimalaya.

Also scoring a bounce back win is San Beda University which overcame a 10-point second quarter deficit to take down Emilio Aguinaldo College, 84-78.

Emman Tagle fired 24 points on top of five rebounds, three assists, and two steals, while Bryan Sajonia chimed in 23 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals of his own for the Red Lions roar back into the Group I winners' circle now at 2-3.

"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 head coach Yuri Escueta.

Nat Cosejo and Joshua Tolentino scored 16 points for the Generals, even as they were dragged down to the same standing as San Beda.

Follow him on Twitter: @Morval_

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