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Tiebreaker Times


NCAA 99: Gurtiza catches fire as EAC torches Arellano, stays in Final Four hunt

The Generals had suffered tough back-to-back losses from Mapua University and San Beda University in the past week, but they stormed back in a big way to hand a feisty Arellano squad a double-digit beating.

Head coach Jerson Cabiltes shared that their focus remains on finishing the season strong to keep their hopes of making the Final Four alive.

“Yun na nga eh, we know that we have a slim chance, but we just want to keep our dreams alive, so we need to win this game. Sabi ko nga sa players, we need to take care of our own business; kailangan namin maipanalo yung remaining teams. And then we just hope na yung mga hinahabol natin matalo, pero kung hindi rin tayo manalo wala rin. We just need to win our remaining games,” Cabiltes said.

Gurtiza was the centerpiece of EAC’s attack as the Chiefs had no answers for him, dropping 23 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block to lead the way.

The second half was where Gurtiza did most of his damage, scoring 16 of his 23 points in the third and fourth quarters to help the Generals pull away from the ever-gutsy Chiefs.

The Generals reached their highest lead in the game of 22 through Gurtiza’s offensive flurry as the Cavite native scored three straight buckets to take the 72-50 lead with just 4:37 left on the game clock.

By then, the game was out of arm’s reach for the Chiefs as EAC ran away with the 77-64 triumph.

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Cabiltes explained after the game that Gurtiza has been the focal point of opposing defenses due to his scoring chops, emphasizing the need for his go-to scorer to adjust to the extra focus, which he did tonight.

“Actually, for the past few games, he’s been missing his shots, minimal yung contribution niya sa team kasi siyempre in the second round isa na siya as mga ine-emphasize ng other teams sa scouting report. Kailangan magawaan pa rin niyang paraan, how to adjust when siya yung isa sa primary dine-depensahan ng kalaban. Kailangan yung adjustment niya and double extra effort sa practice,” explained Cabiltes.

Other than Gurtiza, big-man Erlan Umpad was the only other scorer in double-digits for EAC as he dropped 12 points, six rebounds, and four blocks.

Kyle Ochavo had an unusually silent game for EAC as the Mavs’ Phenomenal Basketball product went scoreless, but the starting point guard added three rebounds and seven assists in the process.

The Generals are back above the .500 win percentage mark as they took an 8-7 record after the victory. They are set to battle against Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers next on Tuesday, 4:00 p.m.

For Arellano, Jeadan Ongotan was the biggest contributor in the scoring department with 11 markers. Ernest Geronimo followed closely with 10 points of his own.

The Chiefs continue to move forward with the season despite being out of the running for Final Four contention, dropping to 2-12 on the season. They will fight against Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights–the only school with a worse record than them– on Tuesday, 2:00 p.m.

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The Scores:

EAC 77 – Gurtiza 23, Umpad 12, Maguliano 9, Tolentino 8, Robin 7, Cosejo 6, Bacud 4, Quinal 3, Luciano 3, Angeles 2, Ochavo 0, Cosa 0, Loristo 0, Villaflor 0, Balowa 0

AU 64 – Ongotan 11, Geronimo 10, Camay 9, Capulong 6, Mallari 5, Talampas 5, Dayrit 5, Rosalin 4, Sunga 4, Villarente 3, Yanes 2, Abastillas 0, Dela Cruz 0

Quarterscores: 16-12, 31-23, 54-39, 77-64

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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