EMILIO Aguinaldo College banked on a barrage of three-pointers in the second half to stun Letran, 87-64, on Saturday night and stay firmly in the hunt for a breakthrough Final Four appearance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Trailing at halftime, the Generals turned the game around and pulled away for good by burying a flurry of triples courtesy of Jan Jamon Jolas Paguia and John Tayongtong en route to a sixth victory in 13 games.
“When they (Knights) played zone (defense), they paid for it,” said Emilio Aguinaldo coach Gerry Esplana, whose team totaled 11 three-point conversions, all but one coming from the second half.
The Generals now moved to solo fifth place, lurking behind fourth-running San Sebastian.
They also dealt the Knights -- the second major scalp the Generals caught after toppling University of Perpetual Help, 70-68, two games ago -- only their third loss in 13 games, dropping their victims to third place.
Relegated to the bench to give way to standout rookie Jack Arquero in the first half, Jamon made his presence felt in the third quarter, where he fired all of his 11 points, including nine from three-point distance, to help the Generals turn a two-point first-half deficit into a 15-point lead heading into the final canto.
In all, the Generals outscored the Knights, 27-10, and at one time made 13 unanswered points in the third period.
It was Paguia’s turn to shine in the payoff period, where the versatile slotman fired half of his team-high 16 points. He finished with four triples in all.
The Generals’ cushion ballooned to as many as 26, 86-60, after a Cedric Happi free throw less than a minute remaining in the game.
After carrying most of the load the previous games, the Cameroonian Happi was glad to get ample contribution from his teammates this time.
“I have to thank my teammates for their hard work,” said Happi, who still finished with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. “We have to play as a team and I think this is result of that.
“I need support, because with support, we’re surely going to make the Final Four,” the foreign reinforcement and Season 88 Mythical Team member added.
Emilio Aguinaldo (87) -- Paguia 16, Tayongtong 14, Arquero 14, Happi 13, Jamon 11, Morada 9, King 3, Munsayac 3, Onwubere 3, Castro 1, Hiole Manga 0, Saludo 0.
Letran (64) -- Cruz 18, Almazan 14, Nambatac 10, Tambeling 8, Belorio 8, Racal 4, Publico 2, Castro 0, Po 0, Luib 0, Olotu 0, Buenaflor 0, Gabawan 0.
Quarterscores: 14-17; 33-35; 60-45; 87-64.