De La Salle University and University of the Philippines booked a finals date after crushing their respective Final Four foes in the 2023 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup on Monday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
The Green Archers moved a win away from completing a perfect tournament run after knocking the crown off the head of National University, 86-73, in the knockout semifinals.
La Salle reasserted its mastery over the same rival it vanquished in the group phase behind Kevin Quiambao’s impressive showing of 17 points and 10 rebounds to go with five assists.
From a three-point, 6-9, deficit midway through the first, La Salle scored 14 unanswered points capped off by a Quiambao three for a 20-9 lead late in the quarter.
The Bulldogs could only come as close as nine early in the second half, as the Green Archers increased their lead to as much as 27.
“It’s really just these guys. They really are stepping up to the challenge,” said head coach Topex Robinson of his squad which already piled up 11 straight wins in as many games.
Mark Nonoy got 14 points and four steals while backcourt partner Evan Nelle delivered nine points, seven rebounds, and four assists in the Green Archers repeat of a 107-86 rout of the Bulldogs in their first meeting.
The Fighting Maroons, on the other hand, also had an easy time disposing of University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 104-69, in the other semis pairing.
The championship match is set on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Red-hot JD Cagulangan and CJ Cansino connived to front the 30-6 UP tear that turned a 26-27 deficit with 7:22 left in the second quarter into a massive 56-33 lead at halftime.
The Altas did not recover from there.
Cagulangan fired 10 of his 15 points, as Cansino shot all 10 of his output in the game-breaking run that propelled State U to the championship round.
“Going towards finals on Wednesday, na-appreciate naming kahit we started slow, kahit we struggled at first, nakita nating nag-bounce back tayo,” head coach Goldwin Monteverde said.
Gerry Abadiano also added 14 points, while Francis Lopez chipped in 10 of his own, as UP enjoyed an advantage as big as 36.
NU and Perpetual will battle for the consolation bronze medal.
UP (104) — Cagulangan 15, Abadiano 14, Cansino 10, Lopez 10, Alter 9, Belmonte 9, Briones 8, Alarcon 7, Diouf 6, Torculas 6, Gagate 6, Torres 2, Pablo 2, Felicilda 0
Perpetual (69) — Ferreras 12, Boral 12, Razon 11, Abis 8, Ramirez 8, Nitura 7, Nunez 4, Pagaran 3, Barcuma 2, Movida 2, Roque 0, Sevilla 0, Orgo 0, Gelsano 0, Cuevas 0
Quarters: 20-19, 56-33, 79-55, 104-69
La Salle (86) — Quiambao 17, Nonoy 14, Nelle 9, M Phillips 9, Escandor 8, David 6, B Phillips 5, Gollena 5, Nwankwo 4, Austria 3, Abadam 2, Manuel 2, Macalalag 2, Policarpio 0, Cortez 0
NU (73) — Figueroa 13, Baclaan 11, John 10, Malonzo 9, Yu 8, Manansala 8, Enriquez 3, Gulapa 3, Jumamoy 2, Lim 2, Palacielo 2, Galinato 2, Padrones 0, Perciano 0, Parks 0
Quarters: 28-14, 45-38, 69-50, 86-73