EMILIO notched its best mark in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament without coach Gerry Esplana.
The former pro player is in China for a previous commitment, but the Generals managed to turn back Mapua, 82-76, at the Arena in San Juan on Saturday to record their first winning season in the country’s oldest collegiate league.
The Generals finished the year with 10 wins in 18 games — two more than last year — as they barely missed the Final Four.
“It’s a big achievement for the school,” said Andy de Guzman, EAC's assistant coach.
De Guzman said Esplana is set to fly back on Sunday but would have arranged an earlier flight if the Generals were still in contention.
San Sebastian (11-7) defeated College of St. Benilde, 69-62, on Thursday and dashed the Generals’ semifinal hopes.
Point guard Jorem Morada stood tallest for the Generals, pumping in 23 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter as that helped his squad rally from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter.
None more important in the third-year wily guard’s endgame onslaught was his right-corner triple that made it 79-73 with 43.8 seconds left.
Cedric Happi provided ample support with 17 points and 14 boards, while Jan Jamon added 13 points, including a pair or treys for the Generals.
Jeson Cantos scored a career-high 24 points on top of 11 boards for the Cardinals, who failed to protect a 13-point third-quarter lead and finished the season with only two wins in 18 games.
EAC (82) – Morada 23, Happi 17, Jamon 13, Arquero 11, King 5, Munsayac 5, Tayongtong 4, Paguia 2, Hiole Manga 2, Castro 0, Mejos 0, Onwubere 0.
MIT (76) – Cantos 24, Brana 13, Magsigay 15, Ighalo 11, Isit 9, Gonzalez 2, Estrella 2, Gabo 0, Guzman 0, Magtoto 0.
Quarterscores: 16-19; 28-39; 55-61; 82-76.