MANILA, Philippines -- For the first time in nearly three years, the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors are back in the win column.
The Red Warriors defeated Arellano University, 58-50, in the 2022 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup on Wednesday for their first win since October 30, 2019 -- the last game of UAAP Season 82.
At the time, UE was still led by the likes of Rey Suerte, Alex Diakhite, and Philip Manalang, who steered them past National University, 79-76.
"Actually, tama kayo, dati, puro good game lang nasasabi sa amin, pero ngayon, congratulations talaga sa boys," said a beaming head coach Jack Santiago.
Santiago and the Red Warriors endured a 0-14 campaign in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament, then dropped their first three assignments in the preseason tournament before this breakthrough triumph.
Nico Paranada led the way with 17 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists, while Harvey Pagsanjan added nine points, five boards, and two steals. Both players were instrumental in an 18-5 UE run that put them in control in the third period.
The Chiefs got within six points, 50-56, with 34.3 seconds to play before UE forced them into two turnovers in the closing moments of the game. A basket from CJ Payawal was the icing on the cake that was an emotional win for the Recto-based squad.
"'Yung patience ng coaches sa amin sa practice, 'yun ang nagmo-motivate sa amin," said a teary-eyed Pagsanjan, after they sent Arellano to their fourth loss in a row.
In the first game of Wednesday's quintuple-header, Lyceum of the Philippines University remained unscathed after Renzo Navarro and Vincent Cunanan fronted their fourth-quarter surge to blow by University of Sto. Tomas, 83-73.
Navarro ended with 12 points and nine assists, while Cunanan finished with 17 markers, five rebounds, three dimes, and three steals, with seven of his output coming in the final frame where they outscored their opponents, 23-12.
"Actually, nagalit ako nung first half kasi kaya lumaki ang lamang ng UST, we didn't follow the game plan. Kaya sabi ko talaga, we have to follow the game plan," said head coach Gilbert Malabanan as they overcame a 13-point first quarter deficit to rise to 3-0 in Group B.
"Nag-trust lang kami sa game plan ni coach. Kaya kahit nahirapan, nag-enjoy pa rin kami sa ginagawa namin," added Cunanan, who helped make up for an off-game from Mac Guadana who only had two points.
Despite coming alive in the third period, the Pirates were still trailing by one early in the final frame, before Cunanan dropped seven points in a 15-6 run that sent them ahead, 77-69, inside the last three minutes.
The Growling Tigers ran out of gas at that point and succumbed to their first loss in two games.