MANILA -- Emilio Aguinaldo College overpowered De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, 81-72, in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City on Wednesday.
John Tayongtong and Jack Arquero led four other players with double-digit scores with 14 points apiece, helping the Generals nail their first victory this season after almost making the Final Four for the first time.
"Every season is a new opportunity for us to make the Final Four," said EAC coach Gerry Esplana.
Sweet-shooting Jan Jamon fired 13 points, while Cameroonian Noube Happi had a super all-around game with 12 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and the same number of steals.
Esplana was also impressed with how his rookies, Ariel Aguilar and Jerald Serrano, played in their debuts.
Aguilar, who came from EAC High School, provided Tayongtong with minutes at the point guard position by contributing 13 points, four assists, two boards and a steal, while Serrano, a transferee from University of Manila, was a superb fit as as a floor-spacing power forward and scored 12 points, including three booming triples.
"Aguilar is a nice fit for us in the backcourt while Serrano is a good stretch four because he can really hit those outside shots," said Esplana.
The Blazers just didn't have the answer to Happi up front and the duo of Tayongtong and Aguilar, who had 10 assists combined, in the backcourt.
So thin was St. Benilde's front that it had to do the rebounding by committee with Mark Romero, a 6-foot-3 small forward, leading his team in that department with 14 caroms.
EAC 81- Tayongtong 14, Arquero 14, Jamon 13, Aguilar 13, Happi 12, Serrano 11, King 2, Onwubere 2, Saludo 0
St. Benilde 72- Saavedra 20, Romero 14, Grey 10, Sinco 7, Taha 7, Ongteco 6, Bartolo 5, Nayve 3, Jonson 0, Argamino 0, Deles 0
Quarterscores: 16-12; 33-35; 66-54, 81-72