Xyrus Torres stood at the forefront as Far Eastern University weathered a late storm brought by Ateneo de Manila University, 60-54, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan on Friday for their third consecutive victory in the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup.
Torres dropped nine of his 14 points in the last eight minutes to make sure the Tamaraws kept within striking distance for the quarterfinals. Cholo Anonuevo chipped in 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists, as they improved to 4-3, good for solo fifth in Group II.
"Sinasabi ko lang sa kanila lagi is to play tough defense. Kaya kami nanalo, dahil sa defense e; na kahit 'di kami maka-execute sa offense, nandun yung effort sa depensa," said head coach Denok Miranda.
Aside from Torres, no other FEU player scored in the last eight minutes except for Patrick Sleat, whose breakaway layup with 5.8 seconds left sealed the deal. Their defense, however, stood strong and forced five turnovers and four misses by the Blue Eagles in the same timeframe.
"Happing-happy ako sa mga boys. They accepted the challenge. Alam naman ng mga 'tong medyo hard ako sa mga practice namin, pero eto, parang mini-success na rin para sa'min," said Miranda.
Ateneo, on the other hand, remained winless in four outings, as Kai Ballungay was its lone player in double-digits with 13 points on top of nine rebounds and two assists.