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Agunanne, KQ shine in DLSU’s win vs. UST

Henry Agunanne and Kevin Quiambao sparked DLSU’s interesting 68-61 victory against UST on Friday in the Filoil-EcoOil preseason tournament in San Juan.

It was a notable matchup between two teams that are expected to rank in the upper echelon of the upcoming UAAP Season 87 men’s basketball tourney.

La Salle, obviously, is the defending champion, while UST has its best opportunity to return to the Final Four for the first time since its finals run in 2019 thanks to new recruits.

Those recruits, specifically Forth Padrigao – UAAP 85 MVP runner up and champion with Ateneo – and Kyle Paranada were in action for the Growling Tigers, but it was senior Nic Cabañero who led the way with 14 points and 7 boards. The two guards combined for 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.

The best numbers of the night were courtesy of Agunanne, another new recruit, who tallied 12 points, 16 boards, and 5 blocks.

His performance against an opponent the Green Archers might see down the line in a playoff series emphasized a preseason belief amongst followers of college basketball that the reigning champs are now even more dangerous with a better foreign student-athlete in its line-up.

Quiambao, who looked healthy, finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. He sparked La Salle’s 13-6 run in the final period to secure the victory. And that was on the second day of a back-to-back following his 19-point, 7-rebound, 5-assist outing in La Salle’s Pinoyliga Collegiate Cup victory against Guang Ming College.

La Salle is now 1-1 in Filoil after its opening loss to UP and tightly-contested win against UST, two good early litmus tests for their retention bid.

Sources have told me La Salle might not be done making off-season moves. Although the offseason transfer of elite college basketball playmakers Jacob Cortez and Kean Baclaan to green and white are notable, neither will be eligible until 2025. Following the departure of Evan Nelle – and to some extent, Mark Nonoy – DLSU could use extra depth at point guard.

Incoming rookies Ethan Alian and Matthew Rubico should help remedy that, but the Green Archers could also benefit from a steady veteran presence to help run the ship when the offense gets clunky in high-stakes matchups.

UST will be fine. That they kept it close against DLSU until the final period is an encouraging sign. The key will be to build early confidence against the teams they’re supposed to beat, particularly those who didn’t make the Final 4 in Season 86. The early signs in the Pinoyliga Next Man Cup a few months back – where they made it to the semis – were auspicious.  

In the other games San Beda defeated Lyceum 76-66 led by Jommel Puno and RC Calimag’s combined 25 points; FEU defeated Adamson 77-67 spearheaded by incoming rookie JR Pasaol’s 25 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds; Perpetual Help defeated Letran 77-69 thanks to the 21 markers of Christian Pagaran; and Arellano defeated JRU leaning on Troy Valencia’s 15 points, 6 steals, 2 boards, and 2 dimes.

Photos courtesy of: Filoil-EcoOil Preseason Cup

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