EMILIO Aguinaldo College went fishing and waited for something to fall for the bait. Its patience and perseverance were later rewarded Saturday night.
The Generals rallied from a sizeable deficit before coming through in the endgame and stunned complacent University of Perpetual Help, 70-68, to keep its Final Four hopes burning in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Jan Jamon registered his best offensive game of the season, but it was Cedric Happi and John Tayongtong who delivered the key baskets down the stretch for the Generals, who won for the fourth time in five games and improved to a 5-6 win-loss card to move into a tie with the day’s earlier winner, College of St. Benilde in sixth place.
The Generals, now just a half-game behind Jose Rizal University and San Sebastian for the last Final Four spot, also dealt the Altas just their third loss in 11 games that dropped them to solo third spot instead of gaining a piece of the lead with Letran.
“(We caught a) very big fish,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said. “We just kept the game close and gave us a chance to win. At yun ang nangyari, napunta sa amin ang momentum.”
“Simula na ng race kung sino gusto pumasok sa top four spots,” said Jamon, who tallied 22 points, most of them coming from mid-range.
The Altas protected a 10-point lead late in third quarter, before the Generals mounted a fightback that saw them slowly chew off the Altas lead.
Happi, the Cameroonian slotman who was still recovering from LBM (loose bowel movement) the past few days, tallied just 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting, but made up for it on the other end by shackling Altas’ counterpart in Nigerian Nicholas Omorogbe, who was limited to just nine points on 4-of-17 shooting.
“We were able to contain one of their top two scorers,” Esplana said as Altas rookie Juneric Baloria still emerged two points away from reaching the 30-point barrier anew before fouling out in the crucial stage of the game.
Happi gave the Generals the lead for good at 64-63, before Jamon scored on a jumper, Tayongtong made crucial free throws and an assist to turn the game around.
Emilio Aguinaldo (70) -- Jamon 22, Happi 11, Paguia 9, King 8, Tayongtong 8, Onwubere 7, Hiole Manga 2, Munsayac 2, Arquero 1, Monteclaro 0, Castro 0, Morada 0.
Perpetual Help (68) -- Baloria 28, Arboleda 14, Alano 10, Omorogbe 9, Elopre 4, Jolangcob 3, Oliveria 0, Dizon 0, Thompson 0, Bantayan 0, Paulino 0, Bitoy 0.
Quarterscores: 16-14; 28-36; 47-51; 70-68.