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Tiebreaker Times


NCAA 99: EAC ends Letran’s four-peat hopes

Emilio Aguinaldo College significantly boosted its Final Four hopes by putting an end to Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s three-year reign over the NCAA.

The Generals eliminated the Knights from contention with an 82-69 victory in the NCAA Season 99 Seniors Basketball Tournament on Friday at the Filoil Ecooil Centre.

With a 1-11 record for the season, the Knights are now officially eliminated from Final Four contention for Season 99, marking the earliest exit from playoff contention by a defending champion in the history of the NCAA.

EAC’s head coach Jerson Cabiltes was absent from the sidelines for Friday’s matchup as his Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards faced the San Juan Knights in Game 2 of the MPBL North Division Semifinals at the Nueva Ecija Coliseum in Palayan City.NCAA-99-EAC-vs.-CSJL-Noy-Catalan NCAA 99: EAC ends Letran's four-peat hopes Basketball CSJL EAC NCAA News  - philippine sports news

“Ang sabi ni coach kahapon kailangan namin yung win kasi kung hindi mababaon na kami sa standing, so para makahabol kami, buti na lang nanalo. Kailangan natin itong panalo na ito,” said assistant coach Noy Catalan, who took over the reins of EAC in Cabiltes’ absence.

Leading from start to finish, the Generals prevented the Knights from gaining any momentum.

EAC had a fiery start, going on an early 21-5 run marked by multiple three-pointers from Nat Cosejo, Ralph Robin, and JC Luciano. The Knights would soon recover from the early setback, managing to cut the lead down to seven heading into halftime, 46-39.

While the Generals’ hot shooting from the wings gave them an early lead, it was their efforts inside the paint in the second half that sealed Letran’s fate. Their go-to big man, JP Maguliano, was unstoppable in the third quarter, scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds as EAC took its biggest lead, 64-47 with 3:17 left in the quarter.

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The Generals coasted through the second half, leaving the Knights helpless.

After the game, Catalan gave credit to his opponents and praised his squad’s efforts in the paint despite being an undersized group.

“Siyempre unang una masaya kaming lahat kasi nakuha namin yung panalo, pero Letran is Letran. Yung heart of a champion laging nandiyan, hindi mawawala sa kanila iyon. Malaking bagay na nawala sa kanila si Javillonar, so nabawasan sila ng big man sa loob. Kung mapapansin niyo, mas marami sa amin ang mga big man na nagdominate sa ilalim, sa rebounds at scoring,” explained Catalan.NCAA-99-EAC-vs.-CSJL-Nat-Cosejo-2 NCAA 99: EAC ends Letran's four-peat hopes Basketball CSJL EAC NCAA News  - philippine sports news

Maguliano led all scorers with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Nat Cosejo had a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards. Ralph Robin contributed 16 points on three triples, while Kyle Ochavo commanded the floor effectively with nine points, four rebounds, seven assists, and one turnover.

The Generals improved to a 7-5 record for the season, now just half a game behind San Beda University and College of Saint Benilde, who are tied for fourth place in the standings.

The Generals have the opportunity to surpass San Beda on Sunday at 10:00 a.m as they face the perennially contending Red Lions in a battle for the Final Four.NCAA-99-EAC-vs.-CSJL-Kurt-Reyson NCAA 99: EAC ends Letran's four-peat hopes Basketball CSJL EAC NCAA News  - philippine sports news

Injuries continued to plague Letran’s season as Paolo Javillonar failed to suit up, while Kurt Reyson went down in the second quarter with an apparent hamstring injury.

With Reyson sidelined, only two players scored in double-digits for Letran. Kobe Monje finished with 14 points, while Kevin Santos added 10 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

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Letran’s first of six remaining games will be played against Lyceum of the Philippines University on Sunday at 12:20 p.m.

The Scores:

EAC 82- Maguliano 20, Cosejo 18, Robin 16, Ochavo 9, Luciano 6, Quinal 5, Loristo 4, Gurtiza 2, Villaflor 2, Tolentino 0, Angeles 0, Bacud 0, Balowa 0, Umpad 0

Letran 69- Monje 14, Santos 10, Reyson 9, Cuajao 8, Nunag 6, Bojorcelo 5, Garupil 5, Briilliantes 4, Batallier 4, Ariar 2, Fajardo 2, Bautista 0, Go 0, Jumao-as 0

Quarterscores: 26-13, 46-39, 68-53, 82-69

Written By

Vito Martin is a sportswriter from the Philippines. In 2023, he graduated from the Ateneo De Manila University with a degree in BS Psychology. He wrote for Ateneo’s official school publication The GUIDON, where he covered basketball, football, baseball, badminton, and other collegiate sports. He is a life-long fan of the Boston Celtics and an avid follower of the NBA

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