Emilio Aguinaldo College hopes to end the first round of the 89th NCAA basketball tournament on a positive note as it battles a Mapua squad flirting with early elimination today at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Generals shoot for a third straight victory in the 6 p.m. clash and a tie for fifth spot with San Sebastian at the end of the first phase of the elimination round.
With Cameroonian center Happi Noube finally asserting himself, the Generals have put together a string of solid performances that helped them climb out of the cellar.
“We just have to be consistent because we still need to make up for those losses in our first few games,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana. “We still have a long way to go to turn the season around.”
The Cardinals, on the other hand, are trying to avoid a sixth straight loss under new coach Atoy Co, who has struggled to find the right combination for his young squad.
Mapua bowed to St. Benilde, 64-84, in its last outing, but Co can take heart at the performance of starting point guard CJ Isit, who fired 15 points.
The Cardinals have been short on firepower particularly in the final period this season where it is playing without last year’s leading scorer Josan Nimes.
Against the Blazers last Aug. 18, Mapua couldn’t keep up with the frantic, run and gun style of St. Benilde in the second half, succumbing to a fifth straight loss.
While the Cardinals struggled in the last quarter of their previous game, the Generals finished with a flourish.
With Noube and Igee King leading the charge, the Generals repulsed Arellano Chiefs, 79-63. The duo combined for 39 points, including 32 in the last two quarters.