2013 finish: 10-8 win-loss record; fifth
Key losses: Jolas Paguia, Jorem Morada
Key additions: Jerald Serrano, Ariel Aguilar
Key holdovers: Cedric Happi, Jan Jamon, Sidney Onwubere, Jack Arquero, John Tayongtong, Igee King
LAST (four), seventh (eight), and fifth (10).
Those are the finishes and win totals of Emilio Aguinaldo College in its last three years in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
And if the trend continues, the Generals are set to make a breakthrough appearance in the Final Four in Season 90.
The Generals appear ripe to be projected as a playoff pick this season with an intact lineup and a few notable acquisitions.
With a core led by Cedric Happi, Jan Jamon, John Tayongtong, Igee King, Jack Arquero, and Jolas Paguia, the San Marcelino-based squad narrowly missed the postseason in Season 89, falling just a win shy of advancing after posting its first winning record since joining the league in 2009.
“We almost made it to the Final Four last year,” Generals coach Gerry Esplana said. “So this is a new season and new opportunity to shine.”
With only Paguia gone and the vastly improved Onwubere filling his power forward spot, the Generals look ready to get over the hump this year.
Like Lyceum, EAC is in its final probationary year and that is likewise a motivation to reach the Final Four to show it belongs in the country’s oldest collegiate league.
Happi, the Cameroonian center and two-time mythical team member, remains the focal point of the Generals offense in the paint, while Jamon and King are the team’s threats outside. Tayongtong continues to be straw the stirs the team together.
But Onwubere will draw more attention this year after a solid showing in the preseason. After averaging just 2.5 points, 2.8 rebounds in 10.7 minutes in 13 games in Season 89, the 6-foot-3 forward normed a team-leading 12 points, second-leading 8.5 boards in 28 minutes in the Filoil Flying V Cup.
He and Arquero are the energizer bunnies for the Generals, who have a total of seven fresh faces, none more significant than transferee Jerald Serrano and high school graduate Ariel Aguilar.
“So far, so good,” Esplana said. “So expect EAC to be there, giving its one-hundred percent.”