Emilio Aguinaldo College threw its hat into the NCAA Season 99 basketball championship ring after it brought down University of Perpetual Help, 75-67, yesterday at the Filoil EcoOil Arena.
Out for on an ambitious pursuit of glory after finishing 10th and dead last a season ago, the Generals were on track on this one as they had all the answers against the Altas in claiming the win.
JP Maguliano led by example as the team’s new captain and muscled his way to a season-high 24 points that he spiked with nine rebounds, two assists and the same number of blocks.
And he has his share of three-pointers too after draining three of four attempts.
“Before we get out of EAC, coach reminded us that we didn’t undergo an intense eight-month training just to lose, that’s the mindset we have,” Maguliano said, referring to their new mentor Jerson Cabiltes, who took over from Oliver Bunyi.
It was also Maguliano who came through late when he sparked a 12-0 blitz with a thundering triple that shattered a 57-all deadlock midway in the final canto and, eventually, the hearts of the Altas.
While Maguliano was EAC’s Batman, he has a Robin in aptly named Ralph Robin, who had nine points in that devastating onslaught that sealed the deal.
The latter wound up with 12 points and Cabiltes’ admiration.
“It’s his last year,” Cabiltes said of Robin. “His three-point shots were so crucial that gave us a good lead.”
The Generals also blanked the Altas from beyond the arc in 28 attempts.
It didn’t help UPHSD that it played minus its best scorer and leader Gelo Razon, who served the one-game suspension he incurred from an unsportsmanlike behavior from their final game a year back.
Next stop for EAC is three-peat champion Letran, which is set Sunday in a game where the former hopes to sustain its giant-slaying ways.
In the main game, Lyceum of the Philippines University slew four-peat-seeking Letran, 70-69, to grab the solo lead with a pristine 2-0 record.
It was the second big gun the Pirates brought down after shocking the College of St. Benilde Blazers, the runners up a season back, 85-81, in Sunday’s inaugurals.
The Knights fell to 0-2 and one of their worst starts after a long while.