Heading into the season, the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals were dubbed as the dark horses for the the season after impressing during the pre-season.
However, after a dominant win against the Saint Benilde Blazers, the Generals lost two in a row against the Letran Knights and the San Beda Red Lions. Safe to say, they needed to bounce back in a big way when EAC took on the Mapua Cardinals, Tuesday afternoon.
But EAC let their guards down after leading by as much as 10 points early in the finale frame.
“Yung defense namin na medyo sumasabog pagdating ng third quarter, doon nag-uumpisa ang lapse namin. Also, we gave emphasis on the third quarter kasi if you would notice, most of our games, lahat ng third quarter namin, palpak eh,” said second-year EAC head coach Ariel Sison.
“Doon kami nagkaka-problema sa third quarter.”
Mapua did not go down easily, though, putting up an inspiring rally to gain a three-point lead with about three minutes remaining. EAC were able to gain the lead back but were up by just a solitary point with 27 seconds remaining.
“Kasi ano lang talaga, Iniisip ko going to the last two minutes of the game, sabi ko lamang ang Mapua ng tatlo. Sabi ko, hindi puwedeng mangyari to, hindi kami puwedeng matalo,” said Sidney Onwubere, who is in his final year with EAC.
“Kasi sinasabi namin na contender kami, tapos ganun, fourth quarter lamang yung Mapua.”
Wanting to win this one badly, the Filipino-Nigerian took matters into his own hands, calling for an isolation and knocking down a cold-blooded triple to help seal the win that evened their slate to 2-2.
“Nag-short prayer ako sa loob, sabi ko Lord help us, sana ibigay niyo sa amin ito kasi we’ve been working hard for this,” admitted Onwubere, who finished the game with 22 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
And not only was that shot for himself, it was also for the EAC community who have been wanting to break into the Final Four since joining the NCAA in 2009.
“So parang, sabi ko, and gustong-gusto talaga namin na makapasok sa Final Four,” the utility forward furthered.
“But if we want to make it to the Final Four, kailangan namin manalo against Mapua, against those teams na kaya naming manalo.”