FINALLY getting the expected production from its stalwarts, Emilio Aguinaldo College regained its winning ways in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, repulsing Mapua, 89-78, on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
John Tayongtong, a pass-first playmaker, went aggressive this time to end up with a career-high 23 points, Jan Jamon caught fire from long range, while Cedric Happi was solid down low with a double-double as the Generals snapped a five-game skid.
The Generals thus chalked up only their second victory in seven games as they gained separation from the cellar-dwelling Cardinals, who failed to build on their first win of the season, absorbing a seventh loss in eight games.
“We didn’t want to reach bottom-deep,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said. “Hopefully this is the start of our turnaround.”
While stepping up his individual offense, Tayongtong kept his teammates involved as he issued five assists on top of five boards and three steals in 34 minutes.
Recipients of the senior point guard’s dishes were Happi, who registered 17 points, 12 boards, one block, one steal, and one assist; and sophomore forward Sidney Onwubere, who finally lived up to the preseason hype by compiling 15 rebounds, 10 points, and two blocks.
But it was Jamon who brought the Generals home, with the streaky shooter firing 12 of his 21 points in the payoff period, including a triple with halfway gone by that sparked a 10-0 blast and took the fight out of the Cardinals.
Before the backbreaking run, the Cardinals crept to within 60-66 as they aimed for a fitting follow-up to a breakthrough 89-81 win over San Sebastian last Monday only to fall short.
EAC 89 – Tayongtong 23, Jamon 21, Happi 17, Onwubere 10, Aguilar 8, Arquero 4, Mejos 3, Santos 2, Pascual 1, Serrano 0
MIT 78 – Eriobu 19, Biteng 16, Isit 12, Gabo 9, Estrella 7, Saitanan 6, Serrano 5, Cantos 4, Canaynay 0, Layug 0, Galoso 0, Villasenor 0
Quarterscores: 24-12, 43-33, 61-54, 89-78