THE biggest obstacles on the road may be through, but it’s still a long way to go for Emilio Aguinaldo College.
After shocking Letran last Saturday, 87-64, the Generals have already passed the toughest three-game stretch of its second-round campaign in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
During that period, the Generals came out with two wins and a loss against the league’s top three teams – catching their first major scalp in Perpetual Help, 70-68, last September 7, barely lost to San Beda a week later, 64-71, before capping their stint by toppling the Knights.
“That was our acid test (playing the top three teams),” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said. “Psychologically, malaking morale booster ito coming in to the last five games.”
Despite having arguably, the easiest remaining schedule among the 10 teams, the Generals vowed not to let up as they try to sustain their playoff push, starting against Lyceum on Thursday at 4 p.m.
“Hindi kami magiging overconfident,” said Esplana, who is eyeing a breakthrough Final Four appearance for the Generals since they joined the country’s oldest collegiate league four years ago, “We’ll just build on it. The rest, we’re not taking them for granted.”
Esplana is so far pleased with how his team is improving at this juncture of the season.
“Tamang-tama na `yung pag-peak ng laro nila. Nung first round, maganda laro ni ganyan, pero si ganyan wala. Ngayon halos lahat (gumagawa).”
“And they’re learning to complement each other. Nawawala na `yung individualism,” added Esplana, whose team registered a season-high 22 assists that translated to 11 three-pointers against Letran.
Jan Jamon, one of Esplana’s licensed shooters who had three 3-point conversions against the Knights, believes the Generals finally have the materials to make it to the next round.
“Yung lineup namin ngayon, isa sa pinakamalakas ng EAC. Gusto talaga namin makarating sa Final Four.”
Jamon and the rest of the Generals’ long-range shooters will again come in handy against the Pirates, who are trying to hike their 4-9 win-loss record.