FRANZ Chiong waxed hot in the second half as Emilio Aguinaldo College beat College of St. Benilde, 73-64, on Saturday to stay alive in the playoff race in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Chiong, in his last playing year, fired 15 of his career-high 20 points in the last two quarters, where the Generals pulled away en route to their seventh victory in 16 games.
The win not only kept EAC’s slim semifinal chances alive, but it also assured the squad its best finish in its three-year stint in the league. The General surpassed their win total in their maiden campaign in 2009
“Nasa isip ko (yung record) pero I didn’t tell my players before the game, baka ma-pressure sila eh,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said.
Holding on to a one-point lead at the half, the Generals ran away in the second half, with the cushion growing to 65-52 after a Chiong triple with a little over five minutes remaining.
“It was a total team effort,” said Chiong, who shot 7 of 9 from the field and added six assists and six boards.
The 5-foot-11 playmaker got sufficient offensive support from Cedric Happi Noube, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Jolas Paguia and point guard John Tayongtong also registered double-figure rebounding with 13 and 11 caroms, respectively.
The Blazers, who dropped to their fourth straight loss and 12th overall against four wins, missed the services of Carlo Lastimosa and Joel Tolentino, who were suspended by the school due to academic deficiencies.
EAC (73) – Chiong 20, Happi 14, Monteclaro 12, Paguia 8, Jamon 7, Morada 5, Tayongtong 4, Yaya 3, Sanchez 0
CSB (64) – Grey 11, Deles 10, Romero 9, Taha 9, Bartolo 8, Tan 6, Carlos 5, Maconocido 4, Garcia 2, Sinco 0, Dela Paz 0
Quarterscores: 19-13; 30-29; 51-44; 73-64.