EMILIO Aguinaldo College squeezed the most out of a tight nine-man rotation as it turned back College of St. Benilde, 81-72, on Wednesday to set in motion its bid for a breakthrough Final Four appearance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
All but three of the Generals who saw action scored in double figures and only one failed to score at all as they frustrated the Blazers in the second half to pull away with the victory.
John Tayongtong and Jack Arquero led the balanced attack with 14 points apiece. Cedric Happi registered a double-double of 12 points and 15 boards. Jan Jamon was on target with 13 markers, while rookies Ariel Aguilar and Jerald Serrano shone in their debuts with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
“Happy ako dahil kahit sino ipasok ko, alam ko may i-po-produce,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said.
The Generals broke the game wide open in the third quarter, where they outscored the Blazers, 33-19, and never let their victims come closer than seven points late in the fourth period.
Scoreless in the first quarter, Pons Saavedra came away with 20 points that went along with eight boards for the Blazers, but all went for naught.
The Blazers actually outrebounded the Generals, 43-39, and had more points off turnovers, 22-4, but ironically, they committed more errors than their winners, 23-15.
It was a positive start to the season for the Generals, who began previous campaigns on losing notes before registering into the win column.
“This is a good sign,” said Esplana, whose team is aiming to become a permanent member in the country’s oldest collegiate league. “So hopefully, mabiyayaan at masundan.”
EAC 81 – Tayongtong 14, Arquero 14, Aguilar 13, Jamon 13, Happi 12, Serrano 11, King 2, Onwubere 2, Saludo 0
CSB 72 – Saavedra 20, Romero 14, Grey 10, Sinco 7, Taha 7, Ongteco 6, Bartolo 5, Nayve 3, Jonson 0, Argamino 0, Deles 0
Quarterscores: 16-12, 33-35, 66-54, 81-72