Jerome Garcia’s first-half performance paved the way for the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals’ 85-72 win against the cellar-dwelling Mapua University Cardinals, Thursday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Garcia, who transferred to EAC two years ago, erupted for 23 first half points to finish with a career-high 27 points. The former Adamson University Soaring Falcon knocked down five triples during the first 24 minutes of action, going 8-for-11 from the field.
“Kinausap ko lang siya, Pero unusual game lang. Kung open sige tira lang, basta get back on defense,” remarked second-year EAC head coach Ariel Sison of Garcia’s career game. “Napakasuwerte niya dahil 23 points pa lang siya first half ata. Very lucky lang those shots were made.”
Team captain Sidney Onwubere added 16 points and 15 rebounds in 35 minutes of action.
And the Generals needed every point they can get from the two stalwarts as the Generals continue to be hampered by injuries after Juju Bautista was also declared out for the season due to a left shoulder injury.
“Kami kasi sabi ko kasi sa team… Okay, it’s really good for us to attend already the Final Four kasi unang una wala na kaming Juju [Bautista], out of the season na yung Bautista namin because of the shoulder injury,” expressed Sison. “Tapos si Hamadou [Laminou] out din. Play your usual game. Kung kaya ipanalo, ipanalo. Yun lang.”
Facing no pressure, the Generals played in a free-flowing setting, knocking down 11 triples in the contest and shooting 47 percent from the field. Moreover, nine of the 11 Generals plugged in the game were able to score.
The Generals led by as much as 18 points in the final frame, 83-65, after Francis Munsayac knocked down a triple with 2:39 remaining.
With the win, EAC upped their slate to 5-6, just half-a-game behind fourth-running San Sebastian.
“Sana kaya pa namin despite kulang kami ng player,” said Sison about making the Final Four.
On the other hand, Mapua dropped their 10th straight game despite Andrew Estrella’s return from an MCL injury.
Laurenz Victoria finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists for Mapua. JB Raflores added 14 points and seven rebounds. However, Mapua struggled from the field, shooting at just a 39 percent clip, 3-for-18 from downtown.
EAC will next face the JRU Heavy Bombers on Tuesday, September 19, at 2:00pm. Mapua, on the other hand, look to end their streak on Friday, September 22, against the Letran Knights, the only team they have defeated in the season so far.
EAC 85 – Garcia 27, Onwubere 16, Mendoza I. 9, Diego 8, Munsayac 7, Mendoza J. 6, Pascua 5, Tampoc 5, Guzman 2, Bugarin 0, Corilla 0, Neri 0.
MU 72 – Victoria 15, Raflores 14, Orquina 12, Aguirre 8, Bunag 7, Estrella 6, Gabo 4, Pelayo 4, Nieles 2.
Quarterscores: 28-22, 53-39, 68-57, 85-72.