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FEU escapes Letran to salvage third place in Filoil Preseason

Far Eastern University hung tough down the stretch to escape a brave stand from Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 80-78, to finish at third spot in the 2024 Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup on Wednesday. 

Jorick Bautista came up huge in the final moments to finish with a team-high 21 points alongside three rebounds, three assists, and one steal while Royce Alforque and Veejay Pre chipped in 19 and 13 markers apiece to put away a comeback act from the Knights.

The Tamaraws wasted what was once a 17-point lead as the Knights staged a furious third quarter barrage with Letran outscoring FEU in the penultimate frame, 29 to 13, to head to the fourth ahead by five, 67-72. 

Bautista, however, unleashed a personal 7-0 run that allowed FEU to retake a 72-70 lead. Deo Cuajao rallied the Knights anew, burying a cold-blooded triple to cut their deficit to just three, 76-79, with 38 seconds left to play. 

Incoming rookie Jonathan Manalili sank two freebies to make up for previous turnovers he committed in the crucial juncture. Manalili, who was coming off back-to-back title runs with the Squires in the junior ranks, grabbed a steal but lapses on their side cost them the game. 

Still, it was sophomore Cuajao who emerged as the top scorer for the rebuilding Knights, collecting 27 points built on seven three-pointers alongside five rebounds and three assists. 

—JKC, GMA Integrated News