ALVIN Pasaol almost turned hero to zero but breathed a big sigh of relief after University of the East escaped with a thrilling 72-71 win over Ateneo in the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup on Wednesday.
Pasaol led the Red Warriors with an all-around outing of 23 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, four steals, and a block. But he botched two pressure-packed free throws inside the final 30 seconds nearly cost UE the game.
Fortunately for the Red Warriors, Chibueze Ikeh missed a potential game-winning putback in the ensuing play. None was happier than Pasaol with the turn of events.
"Naisip ko nun (nung sumablay), 'Patay ako kay manong (coach) Derrick Pumaren.' Kung natalo kami patay ako kay manong," said Pasaol during the post-game interview.
UE kicked off its campaign on a winning note while handing the Blue Eagles their second loss in as many games.
Pasaol got plenty of help from Mark Maloles, who finished with 13 points including the win-clinching floater. Mark Olayon and Nick Abanto combined for 14 points.
Pumaren, however, was far from satisfied, but was glad nonetheless with how his wards stood their ground against a taller Ateneo side.
"We're still a long way to go. We're still working our way up," Pumaren said.
Mike Nieto was the lone bright spot for the Blue Eagles with 15 points and eight rebounds, but was a non-factor in the final stretch.
UE 72 - Pasaol 23, Maloles 13, Olayon 8, Abanto 6, Derige 6, Conner 4, Varilla 3, Manalang 2, Gagate 2, Armenion 2, Cullar 2, Acuno 1, Green 0.
Ateneo 71 - Mi. Nieto 15, Ikeh 8, Go 6, Porter 6, White 5, Mendoza 5, Tio 4, Asistio 4, Ravena 3, Ma. Nieto 3, Wong 3, Verano 3, Ildefonso 3, Tolentino 2, Andrade 1, Mamuyac 0.
Quarterscores: 13-10, 37-32, 53-51, 72-71