MANILA, Philippines -- The University of Perpetual Help nearly squandered a double-digit advantage but managed to escape with a 55-54 win over Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) in the NCAA Season 98 tournament, Tuesday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
The Altas led all the way and were up by as much as 16 points, but their offense sputtered in the second half where they managed just 14 points. Fortunately for Perpetual Help, their lead proved enough to preserve the win.
Perpetual improved to 4-3 in the tournament, putting them in a tie with idle Arellano University for fifth place. The Generals, meanwhile, fell to 0-6 after another painful defeat.
"Sobra 'yung first half namin. We were hitting our shots, nara-run namin kung ano gusto namin takbuhin," noted Perpetual Help coach Myk Saguiguit. "Tapos, ganoon na naman, 'yung problema namin ay 'yung second half."
The Altas were still in control, 55-50, with under four minutes left, thanks to a pair of buckets from main man Kim Aurin. But a layup by JP Maguiliano and two free throws from Kriss Gurtiza made it a one-point game, 55-54, with a minute and 11 seconds left.
The Generals were unable to get over the hump, however. Ralph Robin bricked two free throws with 37.2 seconds left that could have given them the lead, and after EAC forced a turnover on Aurin, Robin also missed the potential go-ahead layup with two seconds to go.
"Sabi ko, consistency ang kailangan natin. Ngayon ko lang nakita ang score, low-scoring ball game pala. Hindi kami maka-shoot, buti sila rin hindi maka-shoot," Saguiguit said of their escape act.
Mark Omega led Perpetual with 15 points, while Rey Barcuma added 10 markers.
Joshua Tolentino had 15 points while JC Luciano grabbed 13 boards on top of his seven points for the Generals. Neither team shot well from the field, with EAC making just 29.2% of its shots while Perpetual Help hit 28.1% of its field goals.
PERPETUAL 55 -- Omega 15, Barcuma 10, Razon 8, Aurin 6, Ferreras 5, Martel 3, Cuevas 3, Roque 2, Nitura 2, Egan 1, Abis 0, Orgo 0, Boral 0, Flores 0.
EAC 54 -- Tolentino 15, Maguliano 7, Luciano 7, Liwag 5, Robin 4, An. Doria 4, Gurtiza 4, Umpad 4, Bajon 4, Cosa 0, Quinal 0, Cabuhat 0.
Quarters: 16-12, 41-28, 47-43, 55-54.