In his first-ever game in the NCAA, Jerson Cabiltes caught a big fish as his Emilio Aguinaldo College squad defeated tournament favorite University of Perpetual Help System DALTA as the Generals kicked off their Season 99 campaign in a stunning way.
But the win didn't come easy for the Generals.
Perpetual came back from a 16-point hole and even tied the game at 57-all early in the fourth quarter. However, EAC was able to pull away late en route to a 75-67 victory, thanks to late triples from team captain and graduating player JP Maguliano and the returning Ralph Robin.
Cabiltes, who had seen success outside of the NCAA, said his team's composure down the stretch spelled all the difference.
"Ang sabi ko nga sa kanila, we're not the strongest, we're not the tallest, definitely kayang-kaya kami habulin ng kalaban but we need to stay composed," Cabiltes said.
"We need to stay together, we need to stick to our system, and ‘yung decision-making namin throughout the clutch ay kailangan nando’n."
(As I told them, we're not the strongest, we're not the tallest, definitely the opponents can come back against us, but we need to stay composed. We need to stay together, we need to stick to our system, and our decision-making in clutch time needs to be there.)
Maguliano led the way for EAC as he flirted with a double-double of 24 points and nine rebounds, alongside two assists and two blocks, while Robin chipped in 12 markers.
Nat Cosejo also made his presence felt with 10 points, six rebounds, and one assist.
Maguliano added that a pregame reminder from Cabiltes helped them stay composed all throughout the game.
"Bago pa lang kami umalis kanina sa EAC, sinabihan kami ni coach na hindi tayo nag-ensayo ng eight months para lang matalo," Maguliano shared.
"Doon pa lang, talagang naka-mindset na kami to get the win."
(Even before we left EAC earlier, coach told us that we did not train for eight months to lose. Just from that, our mindset really was to get the win.)
—JKC, GMA Integrated News