EVEN the smallest of chances can motivate Emilio Aguinaldo College.
The Generals overwhelmed Lyceum, 94-73, on Thursday night to keep their flickering Final Four hopes alive in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Banking on a balanced scoring attack, the Generals zoomed to a sizeable lead and never looked back as they scored their sixth win in 15 games.
“We just have to keep positive,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said afterwards. “We’re still mathematically alive so we have to grab that opportunity.”
Under the weather the past two weeks, Cedric Happi Noube finally regained his old form to lead the Generals in the blowout victory.
The Cameroonian slotman, who averaged just seven points in the team’s last two games, finished with 20 points, 13 boards, two assists, two blocks, and two steals as the Generals tied Mapua at sixth place.
Four other players scored in double digits for the Generals, with John Tayongtong and Nikki Monteclaro churning in 13 points apiece, and Russell Yaya and Jan Jamon adding 12 and 10 markers, respectively.
Riding the momentum of their stunning 69-62 win over Final Four contender Jose Rizal University last week, Shane Ko pumped in a career-high 26 points on top of eight assists, five boards, and two steals for the Pirates.
But the high-scoring playmaker failed to get significant contributions from his teammates as the Intramuros-based squad reeled to its 12th loss in 15 outings.
Showing no let-up after establishing a 14-point first-quarter lead, the Generals extended the margin to 24 at the half, and to as many as 30 points, 78-48, after a Yaya breakaway layup late in the third.
Yaya unfortunately suffered a sprained right ankle with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
“The pressure was really on us,” Esplana said. “Facing a depleted team that has nothing to lose, yun ang mahirap kalaban eh. So I told the boys to put the pressure on the opponents.”
EAC (94) -- Happi 20, Tayongtong 13, Monteclaro 13, Yaya 12, Jamon 10, Chiong 9, Paguia 8, Morada 7, Mallari 2, Munsayac 0, Lumahan 0, Acebron 0, Sanchez 0
LPU (73) -- Ko 26, Martinez 11, Garcia 7, Mallari 7, Zamora 6, Azores 6, Pascual 5, Alanes 3, Edding 2, Ambohot
Quarterscores: 23-9, 50-26, 78-50, 94-73.
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