Emilio Aguinaldo College pulled away from a tight contest in the third quarter to thump Arellano University 76-57 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.
Tied at 35-all in the third, the Generals silenced the Chiefs as they went on a 15-0 run and posted a 13-point gap 48-35 entering the final period.
Arellano fired seven consecutive points to cut down its deficit to six, 42-46, with a three-point play from John Pinto.
But the UN Avenue-based dribblers answered with a 16-2 rally sparked by a Jolas Paguia basket from beyond the arc.
EAC seized a 19-point lead, 66-47, with 2:46 left to play and never looked back to score three straight victories for the first time since joining the league in 2009.
The Generals earlier beat St. Benilde 76-61 then scored a huge shocker over San Sebastian 77-67.
“All I can say is we’re a different team now,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana. “All of the boys are contributing in their own little way. The maturity of the team is still a work in progress but the teamwork
Noube Happi finished with 25 points and hauled 16 rebounds as EAC improved its win-loss record to 4-7. John Tayontong added 11, Franz Chiong came with 10 and Paguia made nine points from three shots on top of the arc.
“Happi is a gem,” said Esplana of the Cameroonian center. “He’s a one of a kind player, he’s very dedicated. He is composed, he doesn’t get pissed even if the other guys are hitting him. Plus he’s a magnet in the team, he gives his 100 percent and everybody follows.”
“I told them before if you won’t believe in yourselves that you can do it my motivation has no effect,” added the mentor. I told the boys that if our performance is getting better the games will get tougher,
the teams will really prepare for us that’s why we have to be ready also.”
James Forrester and Pinto had 12 points apiece for Arellano, which now has a 4-7 card.
EAC (76) - Happi 25, Tayontong 11, Chiong 10, Paguia 9, Jamon 7, Yaya 4, King 2, Morada 2, Sanchez 2, Monteclaro 2, Munsayac 2.
Arellano (57) - Pinto 12, Forrester 12, Acidre 7, Caperal 7, Zulueta 5, Salcedo 4, Hernandez 4, Cadvis 4, Bangga 2, Espiras 0.
Quarterscores: 15-9; 25-25; 43-35; 76-57.