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Mojica drops 30 as EAC reasserts mastery of Perpetual, takes top seed

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After denying the same team an outright Finals berth just four days ago, the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals again thwarted the University of Perpetual Help DALTA Altas, this time for the top seed in the NCAA Final Four in a 21-25 25-20 25-17 25-19 victory Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

Not wanting to suffer the same fate as their previous meeting, the Altas rose to an early lead off hits from Rey Taneo Jr. and errors from the Generals. Reception woes continued to hunt the reigning titlists as Perpetual built a huge 10-3 advantage, forcing EAC Head Coach Rod Palmero to call for time. The Taft-based squad got some boost from timely attacks from last year’s Most Valuable Player Howard Mojica and Hariel Doguna. Nonetheless, the Altas finished off the set, aided by the miscues from the opponents, 25-21.

EAC then turned to their game plan of starting off their offense from the service area. Initially, Perpetual had problems with their reception and the Generals snatched a wide margin at 11-4. In an earlier play, Perpetual’s Team Captain Bonjomar Castel went down on a possible ankle injury. Altas’ Head Coach Sammy Acaylar then dug deep into his bench and got some quality minutes from Ismail Kasim and Barry Ytorzaita. The two substitutes kept Perpetual in the game; however, the Generals slowly pulled away and took the second set and levelled the match, 25-20.

It was a tight match in the third set until the Generals seized control of the match with three straight spikes from Israel Encina, Cedrix Rasing, and Mojica. From there Generals never looked back, even as the Altas got some points off Middle Hitter Manuel Doliente. Hariel Doguna finished off the set with two consecutive points, 25-17.

The Generals then continued to dominate the competition and mounted another huge 10-4 lead. Perpetual tried to keep it close with Kasim providing the energy and powerful hits. However, EAC slowly built comfortable margins and shook off a comeback attempt by the Altas led by its middle hitters Doliente and Ramos. The defending champions then secured the top spot as Rasing finished the match with a quick hit, 25-19.

After the match, EAC Head Coach Palmero expressed that they made slight changes in their game plan for this playoff match. The mentor emphasized that the team focused on service to fire off their offense. “Dun talaga ko nagfocus ngayon, mahirap na service para sa kalaban. Yun yung natutunan ko sa dumating na international coach ng Japan,” he said. Palmero believed that his team gets overconfident at times, leading to some errors on their part. “Medyo gigil yung players ko, medyo kumpiyansa,” he added.

For his part, Perpetual’s Acaylar felt that the morale of his players went down with the loss of Castel on the floor. However, when asked of Castel’s situation, the coach said, “He’s OK, hindi naman siya masyadong nagswell,” he said. The seasoned coach was proud of the players like Kasim and Ramos who stepped up in this game. “Exposure yung binigay ko,” he finished.

The Scores:

EAC (3) – Mojica 30, Doguna 11, Melliza 10, Encina 10, Rasing 6, Bihag 1, Barbuco 0, Gorospe (L).
UPHSD (1) – Doliente 10, Ramos 10, Rel. Taneo 7, Kasim 5, Castel 5, Ytorzaita 2, Catipay 1, Rey Taneo 1, Abcede 0, Kalingking (L), Baroy (L).

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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