MANILA, Philippines - Jose Rizal U and Perpetual Help figure in a sudden death to decide the last team advancing to the 2012 NCAA Final Four.
The Heavy Bombers and the Altas lost their respective matches last night at The Arena in San Juan, closing out their elimination-round stints with identical 10-8 marks at fourth place behind the San Beda Red Lions (15-2), the San Sebastian Stags (12-5) and the Letran Knights (11-6).
The Heavy Bombers fell in a 65-71 ambush by the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals while the Altas failed to keep in step with San Sebastian’s fancied rosters and suffered a 62-80 rout.
Coach Aric del Rosario and his Perpetual Help team got a crack at an outright semis entry as the Generals pulled the rug from under the Heavy Bombers early in the night.
The Stags, however, didn’t cooperate, and instead enhance their own bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the semis with the rout they pulled off despite the early ouster by do-it-all player Calvin Abueva on fouls.
The Generals took the exit in the season their heads held high with a first win in three years versus the Heavy Bombers.
Though out of the Final Four race, the Generals fought hard to at least end their season on a winning note.
“What a way to finish the season. Not bad to add another win,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana.
Elyzar Paguia, John Monte Claro, Jose Morada, Jan Jamon and Happi Noube sparkled in EAC’s searing come-from-behind victory, giving the team a decent 8-10 win-loss finish.
It was quite an improvement for the Generals who churned out only five victories last season. The Generals could continue their progress with all their core members returning next year.
EAC fouled up from the line but hit big shots from afar, fuelling a key turnaround from a nine-point deficit at 43-52.
At endgame, the Generals rode high on Paguia’s clutch plays to seal the win.
The Heavy Bombers were still in the game before John Villarias missed on a drive then Rommel Diapera misfired a trey inside the last 24 seconds of play.
Paguioa grabbed two crucial rebounds and nailed three charities in that stretch, the last making it a two-possession game at 69-65.
Morada and Monte Claro knocked in three triples each to highlight EAC’s torrid outside shooting.
It could have been a breeze had EAC fared fairly from the foul line. The Generals, however, missed no less than 20 charities, 11 from Noube.
Earlier, the San Beda Red Cubs and San Sebastian Staglets both notched 16th win in 17 games in the juniors play.
The Cubs repulsed La Salle Greenhills, 65-52, while the Staglets steamrolled the Perpetual Help Altas, 71-44.
The JRU Light Bombers wound up at seventh place after thumping the EAC-ICA Brigadiers, 76-53, for a 7-11 closing card. EAC ended up with a 2-16 slate.