Reigning UAAP champion University of the Philippines outplayed upset-conscious Emilio Aguinaldo College in the last two minutes and eked out a tense 70-65 win to boost its quarterfinals bid in the PG Flex Linoleum UCBL Pre-Season tournament on Sunday at the SGS Gym in Quezon City.
The Maroons were tested to the limit by the determined EAC squad and needed some lucky breaks to dodge the bullet and log their second win in as many games, enough for the solo lead in Group A.
That came after erstwhile unbeaten Jose Rizal University lost to Philippine Christian University-Dasmarinas by forfeiture after bringing in a wrong set of uniform.
In Group B matches, National University likewise enhanced its quarterfinals bid by shellacking University of Batangas, 82-59, while Centro Escolar University finally barged into the win column after two failed attempts with a 93-71 drubbing of Lyceum.
With Gilas mainstay Carl Tamayo struggling offensively, making only three points on a dismal 1-of-8 shooting from the field, Terrence Fortea and Reyland Torres had to carry the scoring load for the Maroons, scattering 15 points each.
The Generals threatened to produce a king-sized upset when they rallied and pulled within 68-65, but Bismarck Lina restored order by calmly sinking two gift shots.
EAC had chances to cut UP’s lead once again but as Ralph Robin misfired from 3-point region and Nathaniel Cosejo flubbed two free throws.
Jhomel Ancheta showed the way for the Scorpions with 18 points and 13 boards while Anjord Cabotaje and Ron Rei Tolentino chipped in 15 and 12 points, repectively.
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