Rj Ramirez starred in the endgame as Far Eastern University (FEU) outplayed San Sebastian College-Recoletos (SSC-R), 84-80, to snatch the top spot in Group B of the 11th FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup on Monday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Ramirez had seven in FEU’s 13-0 finishing run as the Tamaraws ended their elimination round campaign with a 7-1 win-loss record.
The Morayta-based cagers may have grabbed the top seed going into the playoffs, but assistant coach Eric Gonzales reiterated the reminder of FEU head mentor Olsen Racela.
“Coach Olsen (Racela) told us that No.1 or No.3 doesn’t mean anything to us. We just have to be consistent,” said Gonzales, who took over the role of Racela as the latter was fulfilling his duties for Ginebra in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Ramirez, the prized recruit from Canada, paced the Tamaraws with 18 points to go with nine rebounds while Axel Iñigo chipped in 16 markers built on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
Ryan Costelo sank four triples en route to a 17-point performance for the Golden Stags, who ended up on third place with a 6-2 card and saw their six-game winning streak snapped.
San Sebastian led by as much as seven points, 32-25, but FEU’s Iñigo knocked down four consecutive triples to put the game on a 34-34 deadlock halfway the second period.
Costelo hit a trey from the left wing to give SSC-R a narrow 41-40 lead at the end of the first half.
It was still a tight battle in the payoff period until San Sebastian zoomed to a 9-0 run for an 80-71 advantage following the double unsportsmanlike foul called on Alfren Gayosa and FEU’s Hubert Cani.
However, Ramirez bucked his two consecutive turnovers toward the closing minutes as the six-foot guard figured in the Tamaraws’ final blitz while the Stags went on a four-minute scoring drought.
Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila University stretched its winning roll to four games with a 59-51 beating of Jose Rizal University (5-2).
In other seniors matches, Lyceum of the Philippines University (6-2) walloped University of Sto. Tomas (1-7), 127-88, even as Arellano University (4-4) repelled a pesky University of the Philippines (4-3), 73-68.
In the game day opener, Emilio Aguinaldo College (3-5) bested a woeful Mapua University side (0-8), 79-71.