The Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals are slowly beginning to look like the team they were some years ago in the Universities and Colleges Athletic Association (UCAA). The former three-time UCAA and 2005 NCRAA champions have managed to subdue higher seeded teams in the on-going NCAA tournament, including title-contender San Sebastian College and this year's dark horse University of Perpetual Help.
After seven straight losses, the Generals have won four of their last five outings to stay in the hunt for a semis slot. They are currently tied with the Arellano Chiefs at sixth and seventh places, with a 5-8 win-loss card. Last season, EAC was the cellar dweller with a 4-14 record.
Sophomore coach Gerry Esplana has surely turned things around in the second round from a 2-7 slate. What's even more remarkable is that the Generals are averaging a respectable 75.5 points per game in their last four wins. Except for their 73-71 squeaker over the UPHDS Altas, the Generals' other three triumphs were convincing (76-61 vs St. Benilde, 77-67 vs San Sebastian, 76-57 vs Arellano).
Much of EAC's success can be attributed to its prize recruit Noube Happi. The 6'7" Cameroonian leads the Generals in scoring and rebounding with 17 markers and 13.5 boards per game respectively. He is also the league's second-best rebounder after Calvin Abueva. But Happi's presence in the court also gives EAC's defense a big boost. He can hold his own against the other centers in the league.
With Happi taking care of business in the paint, EAC's gunners become more confident with their outside sniping. Such was the case when the Perpetual Help Altas decided to play zone defense against the Generals for almost the entire game. EAC set a season record 15 triples in this game to erase a 17-point deficit and upend the highly favored Altas.
Veteran forward Jan Jamon dropped six three-point bombs on the Altas to lead EAC with 20 markers. Jamon averages 10.5 points per game, with a 33% shooting clip from beyond the arc.
The Generals also have a platoon of shooters in John Tayontong, Remy Morada, Elyzer Paguia, Igee King, John Monteclaro and Francis Munsayac.
EAC now ranks third in offense with 72.4 points per outing, behind San Sebastian's 82.1 and Perpetual's 73.8. Its 16.2 assists per game is third best in the league after San Sebastian and San Beda. Curiously, the Generals have been whistled for the most technical fouls so far with 19.
The Generals have five more games left in the season. A sweep can catapult them to the Final Four. Although the remaining assignments won't be easy — San Beda, Lyceum, St. Benilde, Letran and JRU — EAC has a fighting chance to barge into the semis if it continues its amazing run.
Still under probationary status, the school's chances of gaining regular membership status will definitely go up if it gathers a few more W's. Currently, EAC is ahead of regular NCAA members Mapua and CSB in the leader board.
There's a renewed energy in the camp of the Generals. And they're not ready to hang up their sneakers just yet this season.
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.