MANILA, Philippines -- Undermanned Emilio Aguinaldo College drew strength from a career effort of Igee King as it pulled off a shock 77-67 victory over last year's runner-up San Sebastian to blow some life to its Final Four hopes in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
King, son of former PBA star Abe, fired his league best 17 points he spiked with five rebounds to help the Generals snare their third win against seven losses that kept them in the Final Four race.
It was EAC's first ever victory over the Stags since joining the oldest collegiate league three seasons ago.
And the Generals did it in the absence of their coach Gerald Esplana and two players Remy Morada and Francis Munsayac, who all served one-game suspensions for their misconduct in EAC's 76-61 win over the St. Benilde Blazers last Aug. 4.
EAC also avenged its heartbreaking 93-94 defeat to San Sebastian in their first round encounter last July 30 that used as in inspiration going into the game.
"We lost to them (San Sebastian) by only a point in the first round but it showed us that we can compete against them," said EAC assistant coach Andy de Guzman, who handled the coaching chores in Esplana's absence, in Filipino.
Russell Yaya provided some needed help with 18 points and six caroms while Cameroonian slotman Noube Happi did the rest with 17 points and 10 boards.
EAC, which finished the first round of the elimination at the bottom of the standings with a 2-7 mark, led all through out the game including in the first half when it posted leads as big as 15 points.
The Generals though felt threatened in the third quarter when they saw their lead cut down to just a hairline going into the final quarter.
But EAC kept its head up while San Sebastian just couldn't as reigning MVP Calvin Abueva was slapped a technical foul for a misconduct that turned out his fifth and last foul with still over six minutes remaining in the game.
That was all the Generals needed to hang on to the victory that ended their miseries while giving them hope of aspiring for a berth in the Final Four.
It also ended a milestone for Abueva, whose run of double-double performances of nine straight games was put on screeching halt after being held to just nine points and only eight rebounds.
Curiously, Abueva, who is expected to go high in today's PBA draft at the Robinson's Place in Manila, is coming off a 21-point, 21-reblund and nine-assist effort in an 80-71 win over reigning champion San Beda last Monday.
It was the Stags' second loss in their last three games and third overall against seven triumphs that sent them outside the leaderboard.
Earlier, San Beda stretched its amazing run to 10 with a 171-22 manhandling of Lyceum while San Sebastian slammed EAC, 96-50, to improve to 9-1 in the high school division.
EAC 77 - Yaya 18, Happi 17, King 17, Tayongtong 11, Monteclaro 5, Jamon 3, Chiong 2, Paguia 3, Sanchez 0, Acebron 0, Mallari 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 67 - Sangalang 24, Dela Cruz 14, Pascual 10, Abueva 9, Maiquez 4, Antipuesto 2, Miranda 2, Juico 2, Binuya 0, Rebullos 0, Balucanag 0.
Quarters: 26-11, 43-38, 58-57, 77-67.