EMILIO Aguinaldo College proved steadier down the stretch and hack out an 83-76 victory over an undermanned Lyceum side in the NCAA men’s basketball competition at The Arena in San Juan Monday night.
Cedric Happi finally broke out of his current scoring slump, but it was Nikki Monteclaro who made the key plays in the endgame to lift the Generals to only their second win in seven games and tie their victims at seventh place.
Happi, the Generals’ Cameroonian center, had a monster game of 25 points and 20 boards, while Monteclaro buried a triple and converted two free throws that doused the late-game rally by the Pirates.
“Meron na kaming instances where we threatened to pull away, pero nakakabalik sila. I have to give it to LPU. Ganyan na talaga sila,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said.
“At syempre (kay Happi) kami pupunta considering na may advantage kami. Kaya lang we should take care of the ball more tsaka dapat meron kaming killer’s instinct.”
In the off night of star playmaker Shane Ko and the absence of standout guard Dexter Zamora, who was suspended along with skipper Andrei Mendoza, back-up playmaker Tirso Lesmoras stood out for the Pirates, pumping in 28 points, seven boards, two assists, and two steals in a losing effort.
The 5-foot-6 Lesmoras fired 10 of his output in the fourth quarter, including two charities that made it a one-possession game at 78-76 with 40.5 seconds remaining, before Monteclaro’s heroics sealed the deal for the Generals.
Zamora was meted a three-game suspension for hitting RJ Argamino in the mid-section during Lyceum’s game against host St. Benilde last week.
Mendoza meanwhile, was suspended for a game after he was caught pushing Argamino just before Zamora punched the St. Benilde player.
EAC (83) – Happi 25, Arquero 12, Onwubere 9, Tayongtong 8, Monteclaro 8, Jamon 7, Paguia 6, Castro 2, King 2, Munsayac 2, Morada 2, Hiole Manga 0, Mejos 0, Hassan 0.
Lyceum (76) – Lesmoras 28, Lacastesantos 13, Francisco 7, Mbomiko 7, Ko 6, Alanes 5, Azores 4, Baltazar 2, Soliman 2, Garcia 2, Evangelista 0, Taladua 0, Ambohot 0.
Quarterscores: 25-22; 41-37; 59-55; 83-76.