Despite having their defensive anchor Hamadou Laminou out for the majority of the game, the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals were able to buck the skidding Arellano University Chiefs’ late-game rally, 85-79, Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
The win pushed the Generals — a team that has been idle since July 25 — to solo third with a 3-2 slate. Last season’s runners-up, on the other hand, fell to 2-4 after suffering their third straight setback.
“We’re very lucky na without Laminou kanina, we’re winning,” said second-year EAC head coach Ariel Sison. “If you’ll recall, our game against Mapua, he was in foul trouble then, and we were able to close.”
Laminou fell awkwardly during a rebounding scrum against Arellano’s Lervin Flores with 1:37 left in the opening frame. According to Sison, the Cameroonian student-athlete hurt his right knee. The gravity of the injury has yet to be known.
With Laminou out, senior Sidney Onwubere worked double-time, scoring 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks.
“Sabi ko nga kanina, sobrang laking kawalan ni Laminou, kung halimbawa hindi na siya makakapaglaro sa season,” lamented Onwubere.
However, the Generals had to withstand a furious Arellano rally to close out the game.
With EAC holding a game-high 11 points lead, 79-68, after an Owubere three with 3:23 remaining. Kent Salado, who scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in the final frame, tried to will Arellano back. The Chiefs were able to cut the lead to two points, 81-79 after two free throws from Lervin Flores with 49 seconds remaining.
A split on the stripe by Onwubere gave Arellano life, but a bad pass from Flores resulted to Salado turning the ball over that led to Raymond Pascua’s game-sealing free throws.
Juju Bautista and Jerome Garcia added 14 and 13 points each for the Generals, a team that shot 50 percent from the field to negate their horrid 18-for-33 shooting from the foul stripe.
Allen Enriquez finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for Arellano.
EAC will host their first-ever NCAA-sanctioned game on Thursday, August 10, at 2:00pm against the league-leading Lyceum Pirates. Arellano, on the other hand, look to end their skid on Tuesday, August 15, against the Perpetual Altas at 2:00pm.
EAC 85 – Onwubere 17, Bautista 14, Garcia 13, Munsayac 11, Laminou 8, Diego 6, Guzman 6, Pascua 5, Corilla 3, Neri 2, Tampoc 0, Mendoza J 0, Mendoza I 0
AU 79 – Salado 24, Enriquez 17, Alcoriza 12, Flores 7, Dela Cruz 5, Meca 3, Villoria 3, Nicholls 3, Concepcion 3, Canete 2, Abanes 0, Ongolo Ongolo 0
Quarterscores: 22-20, 43-43, 67-59, 85-79.