NU quiets CSB in OT to win FilOil QF battle

Jake Figueroa's clutch three set up NU's overtime dominance to knock out CSB. FilOil EcoOil Sports
By Dugout Philippines

SAN JUAN, MM—Jake Figueroa rescued defending champion National University, Wednesday inside the Filoil EcoOil Centre by making his presence felt when it mattered most to outduel Migs Oczon and College of St. Benilde, 88-72, in the first overtime game of the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.

Figueroa fired eight points, including the corner triple that forced extra time, to go along with three steals and one rebound in the last second of regulation and all of overtime to make sure the Bulldogs never quit from a three-point, 69-72, deficit with 13.4 ticks to go. The third-year wing outscored the Blazers by his lonesome in the timeframe, as their defense also allowed no more makes.

"Eto yung mga kailangan nilang pagdaanan, na masusubukan yung character ng team. We were down, so paano namin babawiin," said head coach Jeff Napa. "Kahit napakasama ng laro namin, we had to find ways to win. At least, na-BDO namin ngayon."

Jolo Manansala, Steve Nash Enriquez, and Omar John also contributed in the semifinals-clinching 16-0 overtime run, all while National U stymied Oczon and Miggy Corteza in the additional period.

"Kami kasi, kahit anong laro, ayaw naming matalo. Kaya tatrabahuin at tatrabahuin lang namin lagi," said Enriquez, who totaled 21 points, four assists, and four rebounds to help the Bulldogs overcome the absence of Kean Baclaan who was out due to flu.

John then pounded in 16 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks, while Figueroa finished with an all-around 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals. The Bulldogs are the first team into the Final Four, and their title defense continues in the premiere preseason tournament backed by Filoil, EcoOil, Hanes, Akari, Reyes BBQ, BDO, Kalos Sportswear, and Molten.

Oczon showed the way for Benilde with 11 points, five assists, and four rebounds, as Felipe Marasigan also added 12 points and five rebounds. Running out of gas in the endgame, however, they bow out of the tourney and look ahead to welcoming back recovering NCAA 98 MVP Will Gozum in preparation for next season.

In the play-in games, Colegio de San Juan de Letran and Far Eastern University stamped their class on debuting regional champions to close in on the fourth seeds in their respective groups.

Kobe Monje and Kevin Santos joined forces to carry the Knights over Guang Ming College (GMC), 85-73, in the first of their two-game series.

The interior duo combined for all but five points in the 18-6 tear that turned a four-point, 46-42, edge early in the second half into a 64-48 advantage with 2:21 left in the third quarter. The Luzon qualifier Flying Dragons could only come as close as seven from the point, as the three-peat NCAA champions never let go of the momentum.

Up against a GMC frontline bannered by Nigerian student-athletes Dikachi Udodo and Stephen Ihebem, Letran head coach Rensy Bajar sang the praises of his bigs - including Pao Javillonar - who powered their win, saying, "Yung Guang Ming, maganda programa nila, pero because of our bigs, na-limit namin sila nung second half. Nagtulong-tulong kami sa loob para mawala yung point of attack nila."

Monje wound up with 18 points; Santos ended with 13 points, seven rebounds, six blocks; and Kurt Reyson tallied 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals, as the Knights moved a win away - or a loss of no more than 11 points - from Group I's no. 4 slot and a quarterfinals date with Group II no. 1 De La Salle University.

The Tamaraws, meanwhile, buried Jose Maria College Foundation (JMC) in a couple of first half barrages before breezing to a 96-65 decision.

The Kings, Escandor Cup champions from VisMin, got off to a 5-0 start before Xyrus Torres caught fire and scored 10 points in an 18-6 run that put FEU on top, 18-11, late in the first period. JMC then responded with five straight points only to see the Tamaraws counter with a 14-0 charge of their own for a 32-16 advantage at the 6:42 mark of the second quarter.

The green and gold wouldn't be threatened the rest of the way en route to a decisive win in the first of their two-game series.

"Coming into games like this, you just have to respect the opponent, respect the game. How do you do that? Play hard and play the right way," said assistant coach Gabby Severino, who filled in for shot-caller Denok Miranda.

In the end, Torres had 20 points built on four triples to go with five rebounds, as Royce Alforque pumped in 14 points, six assists, and three rebounds in his second game back from a knee injury. FEU will clinch the Group II fourth seed to face Group I top seed University of Perpetual Help if it beats the Kings once more -- or it doesn't lose by as much as 32.

JMC was paced by the 17 points, nine rebounds, and three assists of Christer Catarong, while Udodo fronted the effort for GMC with 24 points, eight rebounds, and three steals.



FEU 96 - Torres 20, Alforque 14, Guibao 10, Bagunu 9, Pasaol 7, Ona 7, Macapagal 7, Faty 6, Anonuevo 6, Montemayor 6, Sleat 2, Felipe 2, Songcuya 0, Buenaventura 0

JMC 65 - Catarong 17, Poyos 15, Quiamco 10, Olivar 5, Mendiola 5, Montana 4, Thompson 4, Gementiza 3, Morado 2, Gaslang 0, Torejas 0, Bularon 0

QUARTERS: 24-16, 52-23, 75-41, 96-65


LETRAN 85 - Reyson 19, Monje 18, Santos 13, Fajardo 11, Javillonar 10, Cuajao 7, Montecillo 5, Tolentino 2, Ariar 0, Nunag 0, Morales 0, Casia 0, Brillantes 0

GMC 73 - Udodo 24, Jamias 13, Lozada 11, Lactaotao 6, Cabilla 5, Ihebem 5, Pujeda 4, Dumalagan 3, Pecolera 2, Villegas 0, Caasalan 0

QUARTERS: 18-17, 43-39, 67-54, 85-73


NATIONAL U 88 - Enriquez 21, John 16, Figueroa 16, Malonzo 9, Manansala 8, Palacielo 6, Lim 5, Galinato 2, Diassana 2, Parks 2, Yu 1, Gulapa 0, Casinillo 0

BENILDE 72 - Marasigan 12, Oczon 11, Carlos 10, Mara 10, Sangco 9, Corteza 6, Jarque 5, Turco 4, Lepalam 2, Dimayuga 2, Serrano 1, Cajucom 0, Flores 0, Baliquig 0, Vanguardia 0

QUARTERS: 19-18, 34-37, 51-52, 72-72, 88-72

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