University of Perpetual Help fought off Colegio de San Juan de Letran for the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup Group I top seed courtesy of a well-earned 81-68 win, Friday at San Juan’s Filoil EcoOil Centre.
The two heavyweights were duking it out in the first three quarters before Jielo Razon scored all but five points in the Altas' 14-4 blitz to turn a two-point edge early in the fourth period into a 78-66 advantage with under three minutes left.
The momentum remained with them until the final buzzer, as they celebrated an outright quarterfinals berth in the premiere preseason tournament.
"I'll take this win. Sa coaching career ko sa NCAA, [Letran] na lang 'yung team na 'di ko natatalo. Dun naging sweet," said head coach Myk Saguiguit after they ensured a 7-2 record to end the eliminations.
Razon turned in a 19-point, three-rebound, and two-assist showing during his birthday, as Arthur Roque tallied 19 points and nine rebounds and Christian Pagaran collected 15 points and five rebounds.
Perpetual now awaits the results of the tourney's play-in tournament starting next Wednesday, where the Knights fell to the fourth seed due to having worse quotients than fellow 6-3 teams College of St. Benilde (no. 2) and Lyceum of the Philippines University (no. 3).
Kurt Reyson did his best to shoot the three-peat NCAA champions to the top seed with his 24 points, three assists, and two rebounds, while Kevin Santos also added 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. But they now have to go through the play-in with Luzon qualifier Guang Ming College as their first assignment.