Kevin Santos saved the day for Letran as they rallied past Emilio Aguinaldo College, 68-66, in the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan on Friday.
With the tally tied at 66-all with 4.9 ticks to go, Santos cleaned up the mess from Kurt Reyson's high-looping scoop shot to provide the game-winner for the now-5-2 Knights. Those were his only points to go along with six rebounds.
"Actually, I give credit sa mga assistant coaches ko kasi sa kanila yung suggestion na ipasok si Santos. Na-visualize nila yung nangyari at naging effective naman," said head coach Rensy Bajar after they remained alive and kicking for a quarterfinals berth in Group I.
Letran wouldn't have come back from as much as 16 points down if not for Pao Javillonar's 15-point, 10-rebound double-double as well as Nicko Fajardo's 13 points, four assists, and three rebounds.
For the Generals, Nat Cosejo put forth a strong showing of 22 points and six rebounds only to see his side lose their third in a row and fifth overall out of seven games.
Meanwhile, National University barged back into the win column courtesy of a 45-point beatdown of Centro Escolar University, 105-60.
Kean Baclaan pumped in 16 points, two assists, and two rebounds, including eight straight points in a 19-8 burst that blew the game wide open from a 7-all deadlock to a 26-15 edge for the Bulldogs late in the first quarter.
Their lead keep growing, as they recovered from a loss to the University of the Philippines the last time around and rose to 4-2 in Group II.
"Last time, nag-viewing kami agad ng something to improve on. Yun yung talagang inayos namin kaya buti naman, na-apply namin ngayon," said head coach Jeff Napa.
Mark Anagbogu paced the Scorpions with 16 points, even as they absorbed their sixth loss in a row following a tourney-opening win.