Tamaraws avert disaster vs Knights to finish 3rd in FilOil preseason cagefest

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Tamaraws avert disaster vs Knights to finish 3rd in FilOil preseason cagefest
FEU's Veejay Pre
FilOil EcoOil Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- The Far Eastern University Tamaraws blew a 17-point lead but came from behind and held on against the Letran Knights, 80-78, to take home the bronze medal of the FilOil EcoOil ECJ preseason cup Wednesday.

Jorick Bautista spearheaded the Tamaraws’ charge with 21 points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal.

After trailing by seven in the third quarter, Bautista heated up to help FEU regain control of the game, 72-70, with 4:20 remaining.

Deo Cuajao answered with a 3-pointer to give the lead back to Letran, but a putback by Veejay Pre pushed the Tamaraws back on the driver’s seat.

In the next minutes, the only player to score was Mo Konateh, who split his free throws with less than three minutes to go to give the Morayta-based squad a 75-73 lead.

And with 42.5 seconds left, Bautista punched in the dagger triple, 78-73.

Cuajao responded with a trey of his own, and the Knights forced a turnover to get a chance to tie or take the lead.

Dimaano, Manalili and Cuajao though missed their attempts.

With 12.2 ticks remaining, Konateh split his free throws. Manalili, on the other end, sank a pair of free throws to set the final score.

Letran did not give up, stealing the ball late, but they were unable to hoist up a shot as time expired.

Royce Alforque backstopped Bautista with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Pre and Konateh had double-doubles, with the former registering 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while the latter chipping in 11 markers and 21 boards to go along with three blocks.

FEU asserted their mastery in the first half, going up by as much as 17 points, 47-30, in the second quarter with a hookshot by Konateh.

Come the third frame, however, the Knights flipped the script off the offensive outburst of Cuajao, who single-handedly outscored the Tamaraws, 14 to 13.

For the whole quarter, Letran outpointed the Tamaraws 29 to 13 as they took a 67-62 lead heading into the final canto.

Cuajao paced the Knights with 27 markers off the bench, while Manalili added 15.

This is the first podium finish of FEU in the preseason tourney since bagging the silver medal in 2022.

The gold medal match between the reigning champions University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and the La Salle Green Archers is ongoing as of posting time.

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