EMILIO Aguinaldo College snapped a six game losing skid as it thumped College of St. Benilde, 76-61, Saturday in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Generals leaned on a big third quarter rally to pull away from a close 36-33 lead at the half.
The Generals posted a big 23-point lead, with Noube Happi pouring nine of his 18 markers during that stretch, which saw them hold St. Benilde to just eight points coming into the pivotal fourth.
"Finally we found a way to win," said EAC coach Gerry Esplana, who was ejected out of the game in the final 48 seconds after a near free-for-all involving General Francis Munsayac and Blazers’ Rhoel Maconocido and Joel Tolentino.
"I just told the boys, guys sa previous games natin hindi tayo nag-start strong sa third quarter. This time bigay ninyo naman sa kin yun. Ayun good thing nag deliver naman sila,” said Esplana.
"We have nothing to lose everything to gain so binigay namin ang best namin to win," he added.
The lopsided win was marred by a fracas that saw Munsayac elbowed twice by Tolentino and Maconocido, whom Esplana engaged in a heated exchange of words that led to his ejection.
Maconocido was later ejected out of the game, while technical fouls were meted on both Tolentino and Munsayac.
The Blazers fought back from 20-points down, but fell short of their rally.
Happi was dominant on both ends of the court, with 18 points and 21 rebounds. He also had five assists, two steals, and a block to lead the Generals to their second win this season in nine outings.
"Every game naman I'm very happy with Happi," said Esplana. "I'm very satisfied with his performance. Maganda ang work ethic niya, hindi siya gumaganti pag sinasaktan siya sa loob ng court."
Jolas Paguia chipped in 13 markers, including three from beyond the arc, while John Monteclaro added 10 for the Generals.
Mark Romero finished with 19 points for the Blazers, who absorbed their third straight loss for a 3-6 card overall.
EAC (76) – Happii 18, Paguia 13 , Monteclaro 10, Jamon 8, King 8, Yaya 8, Chiong 7,Munsayac 4, Morada 0, Tayontong 0, Mallari 0, Lumahan 0.
ST. BENILDE (61) -- Romero 19, Taha 15, Maconocido 10, Tan 5, Tolentino 4, Bartolo 2,Ongteco 2, Deles 2, Garcia 2, Sinco 0, Altamirano 0, Dela Paz 0.
Quarterscores: 20-15; 36-33; 59-41; 76-61.