Guard Francis Munsayac took charge in the stretch as Emilio Aguinaldo College repeated over struggling Lyceum on Friday, 73-66 to keep its flickering Final Four hopes alive in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The diminutive Munsayac fired away 11 of his 15 points in the final frame, including six in their telling 11-4 closeout inside the last three minutes to help the Generals sustain their mastery over the Pirates.
EAC subdued Lyceum, 64-57 in their first-round meeting last June 26.
It was also the second straight win and fifth overall in 14 matches for EAC, tying Lyceum at seventh spot while keeping itself in contention—mathematically—for a Final Four berth.
Idle Mapua, holding the fourth and final semifinals spot, totes an 8-5 card.
Generals first-year coach Ariel Sison, however, isn’t too excited with their Final Four chances, but remains positive that they can still improve their win-total.
“Wala na kami chance siguro. Wala na kami chance siguro. Mapua is 8-5, we have nine losses,” he pointed out.
“What we are looking at is to get more wins and improve our standing from last year.
“If it happens, bonus na lang but it’s difficult for our side,” Sison added.
Cameroon import Hamadou Laminou tallied 20 points and seven rebounds while frontcourt buddy Sidney Onwubere dominated with 16 markers and 10 points before fouling out for Lyceum.
However, it was Munsayac who kept the Generals afloat after the the Pirates tied the game for the third time at 62-apiece off a Shaq Alanes’ daring drive to the hoop with a little over three minutes to play.
Sison couldn’t help but be pleased to see the Generals stay composed under duress.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, whatever the outcome is, just do your best,” he said. “Ganun talaga ang basketball, lalamang ka at hahabulin ka. What’s important is ‘yung composure namin nandiyan at ‘yung character namin nade-develop. It’s a good sign for us.”
Getting their first back-to-back victories this year was already an achievement of sorts for Sison. “I’ve been praying for this to happen and it happened today. I told the boys to play as a team,” he said.
Guard Ian Alban tallied a team-high 18 points while Cameroon import Mike Nzeusseu had 16 markers and 10 rebounds but they still could not prevent the Pirates from absorbing their fourth straight loss. – Jerome Lagunzad
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EAC (73) – Laminou 20, Onwubere 16, Munsayac 15, King 6, Neri 5, Diego 4, Morada 3, Aguas 2, Serrano 2, Corilla 0, Guzman 0, Mendoza 0, Pascua 0.
LPU (66) – Alban 18, Nzeusseu 16, Marata 9, Alanes 5, Soliman 4, Magbuhos 4, Rubite 3, Bulawan 2, Caduyac 2, Serafico 2, Gabayni 1, Baltazar 0, Malbanan 0.
Quarterscores: 21-8, 35-24, 46-47, 73-66.