Baclaan shines as NU stuns Ateneo


Kean Baclaan was waxing hot all game long on Thursday to help National University beat Ateneo de Manila University, 76-69, for back-to-back wins in the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup at the Filoil EcoOil Center in San Juan City.

The 5-foot-10 playmaker fired nine of his 26 points in the Bulldogs’ 20-8 burst in the first seven minutes. Just as the Blue Eagles made a run to as near as 22-26, head coach Tab Baldwin was ejected after getting slapped with two technical fouls in succession for continuous complaining.

Still, the UAAP champions showed their poise and even tied the tally at 57-all late in the third quarter before Baclaan’s buzzer-beating trey over Sean Quitevis detonated a 12-4 blast that re-established a 69-61 advantage in National U’s favor with five minutes remaining.

Ateneo again threatened at 66-72 with 2:30 to go until two straight inside hits from John Lloyd Clemente and Mike Malonzo kept them at bay once and for all. Malonzo wound up with eight points and eight rebounds, while Clemente ended with seven points to flank Baclaan who collected six assists and five rebounds as well.

NU improved to 3-1 in Group II of the premiere preseason tournament backed by Filoil, EcoOil, Hanes, Akari, Reyes BBQ, BDO, Kalos Sportswear, and Molten.

Jared Brown topped the scoring column for the Blue Eagles with 13 points, as Jason Credo and Kai Ballungay chipped in 10 points apiece. Now at 0-2, they turn their attention to a rivalry game against De La Salle University on Sunday still at the same venue.

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.

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.

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 to give all the players the opportunity to play,” head coach Yuri Escueta said.

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

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