UP rallies past La Salle to complete perfect Filoil title run

UP Fighting Maroons Filoil Preseason Cup

UP Fighting Maroons’ Francis Lopez during the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup. –HANDOUT

MANILA, Philippines — University of the Philippines completed a perfect championship run in the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup after pulling off a come-from-behind 69-66 win over its UAAP tormentor La Salle in a winner-take-all final on Wednesday.

The Fighting Maroons needed to recover from a 23-43 deficit, unleashing a 29-6 second quarter and a 46-point explosion in the second half to complete a golden repeat in the preseason tournament.

“During the halftime, [our coaches] told us that we can’t shoot and failed to execute our defense. So entering the second half, we tried to bounce back,” said Gerry Abadiano, who restored the order for UP. 

READ: While building perfect Filoil record, UP tries to solidify its culture

Abadiano finished with 12 points to earn the Finals MVP award after leading the collective effort of the Fighting Maroons.

“For me, we can’t stop [with a preseason championship]. We have to keep on improving,” he said.

JD Cagulangan was also instrumental with 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while Francis Lopez contributed an all-around game of eight points, 12 rebounds, two assists, and two steals.

Cagulangan and Lopez were part of the Mythical Five with Far Eastern University and Colegio de San Juan de Letran impact rookies Veejay Pre and Jonathan Manalili and La Salle’s Kevin Quiambao.

READ: Pressure is key for La Salle’s improvement, says Topex Robinson

Quiambao earned the tournament MVP with 14 points and 10 rebounds but missed two crucial three-pointers in the final seven minutes of the championship game.

CJ Austria stepped up for the Green Archers with 14 points as they settled for silver.

Meanwhile, FEU bagged the bronze medal after escaping Letran, 80-78, behind Jorick Bautista’s 21-point effort to give rookie coach Sean Chambers a podium finish in his first major tournament.

The Scores:

UP 69 — Cagulangan 13, Abadiano 12, Alarcon 9, Ududo 9, Lopez 8, Torres 7, Torculas 7, Felicilda 2, Alter 2, Stevens 0, Walker 0, Bayla 0, Briones 0, Belmonte 0, Tan 0

LA SALLE 66 — Quiambao 14, Austria 14, Ramiro 7, Agunanne 7, Gollena 7, Dungo 6, Policarpio 4, Macalalag 3, Marasigan 2, Cortez 2, Zamora 0, Buenaventura 0, Gaspay 0, Abadam 0, Rubico 0, Alian 0

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QUARTERS: 17-14, 23-43, 48-53, 69-66