EMILIO Aguinaldo College banked on the pressure-packed free throws of Russell Yaya and Noube Happi in the final minute to hold off Arellano University, 75-72, in the nightcap of Monday’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament double-header at The Arena in San Juan.
The Generals squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter but held on to the win as Yaya and Happi converted four straight charities down the stretch.
Yaya finished with 17 points and five rebounds to pace the Generals while Happi, the 6-foot-7 Cameroonian import, had a double-double effort of 16 rebounds and 14 points.
Obviously still reeling from their stunning loss against undermanned San Beda the day before, the Chiefs could not seem to find any rhythm and trailed for the most part of the game.
But a late push allowed them to turn a 64-52 deficit into a 70-69 lead with less than two minutes remaining.
“After their loss against San Beda, we knew they would bounce back so we had to be ready,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said. “It was a game of spurts and they were able to make a run. Luckily we held on with our defense.”
Four players scored in double figures for the 0-2 Chiefs, led by Levi Hernandez’s 14 markers.
Esplana praised his wards for not faltering in the down-the-wire finish.
“Gusto ko ng ganitong experience para sa kanila,” Esplana said.
EAC 75 – Yaya 17, Happi 14, Tayongtong 10, Jamon 10, Monteclaro 8, Chiong 6, Sanchez 5, Morada 5, Munsayac 0, Pillas 0
AU 72 – Hernandez 14, Acidre 13, Cadavis 13, Zulueta 11, Bangga 8, Salcedo 6, Caperal 4, Pinto 2, Lunas 1, Malanday 0, Espiras 0, Valera 0
Quarter scores: 19-14, 39-33, 57-48, 75-72