With another inspired performance from the reigning NCAA MVP Howard Mojica, the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals clinched a spot on the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference Top Four with a four-set triumph over the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Spikers 25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 26-24 at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
The former PLDT Home Ultera Ultra Fast Hitter, Mojica exploded for 35 points off 28 attacks, two blocks, and five aces. Mojica had a similar 35-point outing earlier in the quarters and even erupted for a tournament-record 41 markers against Ateneo. However, both performances came in heart-breaking losses. Needing to win today’s match to avoid a play-off, Mojica was unrelenting.
“Lagi ko naman binibigay ‘yung lahat ko. Kanina, sinabihan ko lang ‘yung teammtes ko na kapag nakakuha sila ng bola, mapatay nila. Nagawa naman nila,” an elated Mojica said after the match.
EAC crawled to an opening set win thanks to late-set heroics from Mojica. In the second set, the Generals failed to capitalize on DLSU team captain, Raymark Woo’s injury and let La Salle tie the match at a set apiece. The third set had La Salle fighting tooth-and-nail before EAC blasted through them. Down by only a single point, 10-11, EAC scored five consecutive points off four Mojica attacks and a La Salle error. Through the efforts of Woo’s replacement, Bernard Dumago and Arjay Onia, La Salle kept trimming the EAC lead down to two but could not keep up with EAC.
The fourth set seemed to be well in EAC’s hand as Howard Mojica vaulted them to another decisive lead, 16-10. La Salle then put up a last ditch effort, slowly gnawing at the EAC advantage until they got set point at 24-22. After a timeout, EAC retaliated with a Mojica kill followed by an Israel Encina running spike-block sequence to retake set point, 25-24. In the following point, Onia delivered a down-the-line hit that seemed to hit the line but was ruled out by the line’s man, allowing EAC to escape with the win.
EAC head caoch, Rod Plamero admitted after the match that he was comfortable with his team being tagged as a one-man squad. “Walang problema doon kasi alam naman ng lahat na si Mojica talaga ang bumubuhat sa EAC. Nasa ibang players ko na lang ‘yun kung gaano nila kagusto makatulong.”
Onia finished with a team-high 16 points while Dumago added 13 markers. Raymark Woo managed seven points before his right foot injury.
EAC’s win gave them a 4-3 record, good for an outright berth into the semis. La Salle can still make it to the Top Four should UP defeat the NCBA Wildcats in the day-cap. An NCBA loss places them at a similar 3-4 slate with La Salle and both teams will thenhave a play-off for the final slot.
EAC (3) – Mojica 35, Encina 11, Doguna 10, Melliza 9, Pagtalunan 4, Arias 0, Gorospe 0, Mangaring (L)
DLSU (1) – Onia 16, Dumago 13, Woo 7, Calasin 7, Asia 3, Dimayuga 3, Frey 1, Bacon 1, Movido (L)
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