Filoil Preseason Cup: La Salle spoils Yuri Escueta’s debut as San Beda coach
MANILA, Philippines — Mike Phillips and Evan Nelle anchored La Salle’s second half surge to spoil new San Beda coach Yuri Escueta’s debut with a 61-53 victory for the early 2-0 lead in Group B of the 2022 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup at San Juan Arena.
The Green Archers bucked a lethargic first half, unleashing a 22-5 run to build a 39-29 lead in the third period. But the debuting Red Lions, in Escueta’s first game as head coach, answered with their own 17-5 rally to regain a 45-44 advantage with seven minutes to play.
Phillips and Nelle combined for seven points in an 11-1 run for a 55-46 advantage in La Salle’s favor with 2:45 left and never looked back to earn their second win in Group B.
“We cannot play that way; out of the system, missing our shots. Good thing, we were able to correct it in the second half and realized we continue with that,” said La Salle’s acting head coach Gabby Velasco.
Phillips tallied a double-double with 14 points and 19 rebounds, while Nelle delivered 10 points two boards, two assists, and two blocks to haunt his former team.
“I was preparing for this game since I saw the schedule. I guess that’s what took me out of rhythm earlier. Good thing, I made up for it (in the second half),” said Nelle, who played two seasons in San Beda before transferring to La Salle in 2020.
CJ Austria and Joaqui Manuel were also instrumental for the Green Archers, chipping in 13 and 11 points, respectively.
The Red Lions were carried by James Kwekuteye with 10 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals in Escueta’s losing debut.
Meanwhile, John Lloyd Clemente poured 16 points to give National University its second win in Group A with a 79-64 victory over the winless University of the East.
UE suffered its third loss with Abdul Sawat being the lone bright spot with 13 points.
College of St. Benilde earned its first win after two games in Group A as Robi Nayve sank the game-winning midrange jumper with 10.7 seconds to edge Mapua University, 77-76.
Clint Escamis, who transferred Mapua from UE, scored five points in his return to his high school alma mater.
But Nayve spoiled Escamis’ debut hitting a clutch basket at the elbow. The returning Mapua guard tried to steal the game but his shot went off the mark.
“That was just Robi making a play. That was all him,” said CSB coach Charles Tiu. “Actually, I’m surprised we were able to upset them, they’re a strong team, an NCAA Finals team. This was also a boost for us, upsetting a strong team in our group.”
Mark Sangco led the way for the Blazers with 17 points. Will Gozum added 12, as Nayve had 11 markers.
Mapua slid to 0-2 in the group despite the 20-point effort of Bryan Lacap.
Earlier, Lyceum also stayed unbeaten in two games as Mac Guadana and JM Bravo towed Jose Rizal University, 80-73.
Bravo led the Pirates with 17 points, eight rebounds, and three assists, while Guadana had 13 points and seven dimes to keep the Heavy Bombers winless in three games.
In other Group A game, Emilio Aguinaldo College improved to 2-1 after Allen Liwag and Nat Cosejo scored 16 points each to elude Arellano, 68-66.
Wilmar Oftana led the Chiefs with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Cade Flores posted a 12-point, 12-board double-double as they remained winless in three games.
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