EMILIO Aguinaldo College put together a valiant effort in the final period to pull off a stunning 70-68 triumph over Perpetual Help last night and stay in the thick of the fight for a Final Four berth in the 89th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena.
The Generals’ last quarter push got a boost from a Perpetual Help squad that lost leading scorer Juneric Baloria due to fouls down the stretch.
EAC notched its fifth win in 11 outings for a share of sixth spot with the St. Benilde Blazers, who leaned on a strong second-half effort from Paolo Taha to repulse the Mapua Cardinals, 74-62, in the first game.
Jan Jamon came off the bench to score 22 points as the Generals’ reserves delivered to give EAC its fourth win in its last five games. EAC had a whopping 31-point edge on bench points.
Baloria had a sterling offensive game with 28 points, before he was called for three offensive fouls in the final period, leading to his disqualification. It was only the third loss in 11 games for the Altas, who missed the chance to grab a share of the lead with Letran.
Without their go-to-guy, the Altas struggled to get their points, while Jamon knocked in a couple of baskets to boost the Generals, 66-63, with 1:43 remaining.
Quiet in the first two quarters, Taha exploded in the second half, unloading 23 of his 25 points there as the Blazers rolled to their fifth win in their last six games.
“I have a responsibility as one of the leaders in the team that’s why I needed to step up in both offense and defense,” said Taha, who made nine of 15 shots and also grabbed 10 rebounds.
With the rejuvenated Taha firing nine points, the Blazers finished the game with a flourish, outscoring the Cardinals, 24-15, in the final period.
The Blazers inflicted more misery on the Cardinals, who fell to 1-10 under rookie coach Atoy Co.
ST. BENILDE 74—Taha 25, Romero 13, Grey 14, Bartolo 8, Saavedra 4, Garcia 4, Sinco 2, Argamino 2, Deles 2, Jonson 0, Carlos 0, Ongteco 0, Mercado 0.
MAPUA 62—Ighalo 20, Eriobu 12, Saitanan 11, Biteng 8, Isit 4, Brana 3, Magtoto 2, Cantos 2, Guzman 0, Gonzalez 0, Magisgay 0, Estrella 0.
Quarters: 14-10, 28-26, 50-47, 74-62
EAC 70—Jamon 22, Noube 11, Paguia 9, King 8, Tayongtong 8, Onwubere 7, Hiole Manga 2, Munsayac 2, Arquero 1, Monteclaro 0, Castro 0, Morada 0.
PERPETUAL HELP 68—Baloria 28, Arboleda 14, Alano 10, Omorogbe 9, Elopre 4, Jolangcob 3, Olivieria 0, Dizon 0, Thompson 0, Bantayan 0, Paulino 0, Bitoy 0.
Quarters: 16-14, 28-36, 47-51, 70-68