MANILA, Philippines -- Ralph Robin took charge in the end game to fuel Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) past San Sebastian College, 63-60, in the NCAA Season 97 men's basketball tournament, Wednesday at the La Salle Greenhills Gym.
The Generals trailed by double-digits in the game and were still down by three points, 58-55, with just over two minutes left off a Michael Are floater.
But Robin drilled eight straight points, including back-to-back triples to give EAC a 61-58 lead with 1:11 to play before nailing two free throws with 44 seconds left for a 63-58 lead.
An Are layup with 35 seconds to go gave the Golden Stags some hope, and Robin nearly turned from hero to zero when he committed a turnover in their next possession, under pressure from San Sebastian forward Ken Villapando.
But the Generals dodged a bullet when Are's three-pointer missed its mark, and Arjan dela Cruz fumbled the ball as time expired.
Robin finished 27 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter. The EAC reserve outscored the entire San Sebastian team in the final period, as the Golden Stags only managed 11 points.
"'Yung game na 'to is must-win sa amin," said Robin, who made seven of ten attempts from long distance. "Nag-prepare kami ng maayos, kahit na kulang-kulang kami, nag-stay as a family pa rin kami para makuha namin ang panalo."
The Generals improved to 3-3 in the season, putting them in solo fifth place and boosting their stock for the league's play-in tournament.
San Sebastian, meanwhile, dropped to 2-4. To add to the Golden Stags' woes, they lost Ichie Altamirano with 7:05 to play in the fourth period due to what was later deemed a Grade 3 ankle sprain. The Stags were up 49-43 at that point in the contest, before Altamirano was stretchered off the court.
Villapando led San Sebastian with 16 points, their lone double-digit scorer. Altamirano had nine points before exiting due to his injury, and JM Calma was held to just seven points on 3-of-13 shooting in the game.
EAC (63) -- Robin 27, Maguliano 14, Cosejo 10, Liwag 8, Cadua 2, An. Doria 2, Taywan 0, Ad. Doria 0, Luciano 0, Bunyi 0.
SSC-R (60) -- Villapando 16, Altamirano 9, Calma 7, Felebrico 6, Cosari 5, Are 5, Sumoda 4, Calahat 4, Desoyo 0, Abarquez 2, Dela Cruz 0, Loristo 0, Una 0, Shanoda 0.
Quarterscores: 11-22, 29-30, 41-49, 63-60