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Free throws give Generals’ 2nd win in ‘NC’ Season 94

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Emilio Aguinaldo College leaned on key foul shots in the stretch as it edged Mapua University, 89-85, yesterday to snare its second straight win in the 94th NCAA basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

Jerome Garcia, Sean Neri and Renz Gonzales combined for five free throws in the last two minutes to help the Generals seal their second win in a row including a 79-77 overtime win over the San Sebastian Stags last week after starting the season with four straight losses.

All in all, EAC made 20 of 28 free throws on this one and 46 of 61 in the last two that was a complete departure to a nightmarish 17-of-46 clip in a 69-75 OT setback to Arellano U on July 19.

“Actually, that game, our free throw was a disaster and we really worked hard on it every day and we’re really thankful that our hard work is paying off,” said EAC coach Ariel Sison.

Cameroonian Hamadou Laminou came out big with 17 points, 12 rebounds and a game-high six blocks and improving every game about a month since returning from an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury that sidelined him most of last season.

“I’m not 100 percent, my hamstring still hurts a bit,” said Laminou. “But there’s no excuse for us not to play better and I just need to play smart and help in defense because I know we have scorers in the team.”

There were some anxious moments when EAC’s CJ Cadua was assessed an unsportsmanlike foul and Mapua’s Laurenz Victoria a technical foul after a mad scramble for the loose ball with 13.5 seconds to go and the Generals up by just a hairline, 84-83.

Mapua’s Daniel Aguirre, however, missed his two foul shots while Garcia hit the bonus off the Victoria technical and two more off a fifth and last foul of Victoria a play later to give EAC a four-point cushion in preserving the win.

The Cardinals, who were led by Noah Lugo’s game-high 24 points, fell to 2-5 (win-loss).

The scores:

EAC 89 – Laminou 17, Garcia 14, Bautista 13, Natividad 12, Cadua 10, Tampoc 7, Neri 5, Gonzales 4, Diego 3, Mendoza 2, Robin 2, Maguliano 0, Bugarin 0

Mapua 85 – Lugo 24, Bonifacio 15, Victoria 11, Pelayo 11, Gamboa 8, Jabel 8, Biteng 4, Aguirre 2, Bunag 2, Serrano 0, Garcia 0

Quarterscores: 18-16; 33-39; 60-63; 89-85