Emilio Aguinaldo College pounced on St. Benilde’s endgame collapse to escape with a 73-72 victory last night in the NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena.
With the clock winding down, sophomore guard John Tayongtong stole off Luis Sinco and emerged hero when he was fouled and sealed the Generals’ first win of the season after back-to-back losses with a free throw, 5.5 seconds left.
It was another heartbreaker for the Blazers, who also paid dearly for a late defensive lapse against defending champion San Beda in the season opener.
The Blazers again had victory within grasp after leading by double digits midway in the fourth before losing their touch, allowing the Generals to spring back to life.
Tayongtong joined forces with Igee King and Jan Jamon as the Generals erased a 12-point deficit and the Blazers went scoreless in the last four minutes.
Still, the Blazers had several chances to clinch victory after Jamon’s short jumper made it 71-72 entering the final two minutes.
Jeffrey Ongteco was slapped with an offensive foul, Travis Jonson missed a triple and the Generals forced the Blazers into commiting an eight-second violation.
But it was Mark Romero’s miscue that proved the costliest. Romero collared the rebound with 10.8 seconds left but lost possession to Noube Happi, who was fouled.
Happi, suffering from a sprained right knee, split his charities to knot the count and set up the wild finish.
Sinco dribbled to the left flank in the next play and got bottled up by the Generals, allowing Tayongtong to pry the ball loose in a turnover that led to a foul.
“I know John (Tayongtong) can deliver,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana. “This is his breakout performance following two unforgettable games.”
In juniors play, the San Beda Red Cubs dumped the Arellano Braves, 108-51, while the San Sebastian Staglets subdued the Letran Squires, 75-61, to improve their records to 3-0. CSB-La Salle Green Hills routed the EAC Brigadiers, 88-49, for its first victory following a defeat.
The seniors scores
EAC 73—Tayongtong 16, King 16, Happi 14, Jamon 13, Paguia 8, Arquero 4, Castro 2, Hiola 0, Munsayac 0, Morada 0.
ST. BENILDE 72—Taha 17, Romero 16, Sinco 14, Ongteco 9, Grey 8, Deles 4, Bartolo 2, Carlos 2, Jonson 0, Saavedra 0, Garcia 0.
Quarters: 27-16; 31-38; 57-61; 73-72