With two seconds left to go, the red-hot Rocky Acidre launched a three-pointer that could have sent the game into overtime for Arellano.
But the shot did not go in, and as the buzzer sounded, Emilio Aguinaldo College went berserk.
The Generals blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead before outlasting a gritty Chiefs squad, 75-72, to get their first victory in Season 88 of the NCAA at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
“We were outrebounded in this game, buti na lang nag-triple ng efforts ang mga bata,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana. “I constantly reminded them na wag tayo kumpyansa. Luckily, we held on to our defense.”
Capitalizing on the tired legs of the Chiefs, who played against the San Beda Red Lions on Sunday a little more than 24 hours earlier, the Generals controlled the tempo for almost the entire game.
EAC held a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and back-to-back baskets from Rob Sanchez and John Tayongtong extended the gap to to its widest at 13 points, 61-48.
But an 18-5 run by the Chiefs, capped by back-to-back three-pointers by Acidre, tied the game at 66-all. Vergel Zulueta canned in two free throws in the ensuing play to give Arellano a taste of the lead, 68-66.
EAC responded with a mini 9-3 run triggered by rookie Nikki Monteclaro’s three-pointer to take the lead at 75-71, capped Noube Happi’s free throws.
“Maganda yung pagkabunot ko kay Nikki kasi shooter talaga sya and luckily nagdeliver naman when it mattered most,” said Esplana.
With time running out on the Chiefs, Zulueta drew a foul and split his free throws. Arellano got the rebound, setting up Acidre’s desperation attempt.
“Magandang experience into for us coming into our game against JRU. Yung experience we gained sa FilOil, yung team effort, nadala namin dito. Pero we still have to improve sa pag-box out,” said Esplana.
Russell Yaya paced the Generals with 17 points, while Happi turned in a double double of 14 points and 16 rebounds. Tayongtong and Jan Jamon chipped in 10 apiece for EAC, who missed the services of sophomore guard Igee King, who was under the weather.
EAC (75) — Yaya 17, Happi 14, Tayongtong 10, Jamon 10, Monteclaro 8, Chiong 6, Sanchez 5, Morada 5, Munsayac 0, Pillas 0.
Arellano (72) — Hernandez 14, Acidre 13, Cadavis 13, Zulueta 11, Bangga 8, Salcedo 6, Caperal 4, Pinto 2, Lunas 1, Malanday 0, Espiras 0, Valera 0.
Quarterscores: 19-14, 39-33, 57-48, 75-72.
Source: Mia Rengie Angela Domingo, InterAKTV