UP's 2nd half surge secures back-to-back Filoil championships

Francis Lopez converts on a reverse slam. FilOil EcoOil Sports
By John Miles Arcenal

SAN JUAN, MM--An epic comeback was real for the Fighting Maroons.

After trailing by 20 points in the first half, the University of the Philippines dug deep to mount a come-from-behind 69-66 triumph against their UAAP tormentor, De La Salle University, in the final of the FilOil EcoOil ECJ Preseason Cup on Wednesday night at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

The UAAP runner-up completed a perfect run in this tournament to claim their back-to-back title.

After scoring only six points in the second quarter, UP managed to turn the tables by outscoring the Green Archers in the second half, 46-23.

Gerry Abadiano spearheaded his team with 12 points, earning him the Finals' Most Valuable Player award.

"Lagi kasi tinuturo ni Coach Gold [Monteverde] yung resiliency, kasi kahit nahihirapan kami sa umpisa, kung paano kami mag-bounce back 'nong nangyari sa sitwasyon ngayon," said the skipper, Abadiano.

JD Cagulangan finished with 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while the Defensive Player of the League, Francis Lopez, added eight points and 12 rebounds, including the game-sealing free throw.

With under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Dikachi Udodo was sent to the line and gave UP its first lead since the 17-16 mark in the second quarter, 59-58.

Tournament MVP Kevin Quiambao knocked down a triple down the stretch to push the Archers ahead, 65-64.

But Udodo and company snatched back the lead and held onto it until the last buzzer as Quiambao missed two go-ahead treys.

"Maging humble lang kami. 'Wag namin iisipin na kayang-kaya namin lahat ng team, and sabi ko nga kanina, hindi pa namin naabot yung full potential ng team," Abadiano stated.

On the other hand, Quiambao and CJ Austria wound up with 14 points each for the back-to-back silver medalists, Archers.

In the bronze medal matchup, Far Eastern University's late surge towed them to a podium finish at the expense of Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 80-78.

Jorick Bautista once again caught fire with 21 points, three assists, and three rebounds, while Royce Alforque and Veejay Pre chipped in 19 and 13 points, respectively.

Meanwhile, for Letran, Deo Cuajao fired up seven triples in his 27 points, while Titing Manalili contributed 13 points.

The tournament's Puso Pilipinas Mythical Five were composed of MVP Quiambao, UP's Lopez and Cagulangan, Letran's Manalili, and FEU's Pre.

Meanwhile, the Tela.com Athletics All-Tournament Team consists of Quiambao, Jonnel Policarpio, Lopez, Cagulangan, Harold Alarcon, Manalili, Pre, Jedric Daa, Allen Liwag of St. Benilde, and Jomel Puno from San Beda.

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