Friday, November 4, 2011

NCAA S87 Autopsy: EAC Generals

Outgoing Players
- Claude Cubo (28.8 minutes, 11.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 0.8 blocks)
- Dhan Diolanto (11.8 minutes, 0.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.6 assists)

Win/Loss Records
- Season 87: 4-14 (10th out of 10)
- Season 86: 2-14 (9th out of 9, due to quotient)
- Season 85: 6-12 (7th out of 10, due to quotient)

Key Stats
- Attempted the fewest free throws per game (20.33)
- Had the fewest assists per game (12.94) while committing the most turnovers (21.5)
- Allowed the most points per game (82.61), thanks in part to allowing the most two-point makes (25.67) and attempts (52.5), and as a result, the most field goal makes (29.94) and attempts (69.22)
- Gave up the most rebounds (47.33) and tied Perpetual Help for the most fouls per game (19.72)
- Finished last in transition defense (10.94 attempts and 14.83 transition points)

Season in a Glance
An early 2-1 start to the season had many thinking the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals were on an upswing after landing in the cellar prior. Though they were just 2-6 in the Fil-Oil Preseason Tournament, the Generals seemed poised to buck a lot of projections by virtue of three players whom they "hid" during the summer games: former FEU-FERN Baby Tam Jolas Paguia, and the one-two Fil-Am punch of Joshua Torralba and Igee King.

As it turned out, that start was to be the high point of the Generals' campaign. In succeeding games, EAC looked lost on both ends of the court, relying too much on isolation plays and finding themselves lost or late on defense, forcing them to give up fouls. Most notably, they were roundly squashed by the eventual champion San Beda Red Lions on both occasions, losing by 41 in round one, and then by a season-worst 54 in round two. Making things worse was a combination of suspensions (Claude Cubo, Paguia) and injuries (three games for Torralba, four games for King) that limited their ability to stay competitive against lower-tier teams. A 3-4 record at the seven game mark gave them some hope that they could sneak into the playoffs, but they would go on to win just one more match, sandwiched between two five-game losing streaks.

Highlight: Down 59-45 late in the third quarter in their season opener against the Arellano Chiefs, Jolas Paguia led a furious EAC rally that saw them explode for a 19-2 run fueled by three consecutive triples to snatch the lead away, 69-61 with five minutes left to play. From then on, the Generals successfully played keep-away, before winning 84-77.

Lowlight: Still without Torralba and King, EAC had to line-up against the SBC Red Lions and the result of the second round meeting was overkill. San Beda never scored less than 25 points in each quarter, and led 55-36 at the break easily. The worst was yet to come however, as the Generals seemingly threw in the towel by the end of the third quarter, leading to a 36-8 fourth quarter scoring spree by the defending champs, exploding their margin of victory all the way up to 53.

Off-season Questions

1. Who's their main man?
Jan Jamon was their best offensive weapon, leading the team with 13.7 points a game, while shooting a team-best 37.14% from outside the arc and 84% from the line. Milan Vargas was supposed to be their veteran leader, but he never looked right after knee surgery, though he did norm 8.5 points and 2.4 rebounds, the latter figure being the most on this squad. Rookie Remy Morada showed he could explode for a ton of points when given the minutes and the ball. Joshua Torralba was perhaps their best creator on offense (though he usually created shots for himself). Head coach Gerry Esplana will need to establish a pecking order and make sure his guys stick to it come Season 88.

2. Will their African big men produce?
EAC will be banking on Noube Happi and Jaques Manga forming a potent one-two punch at the center position next season, to replace the Diolanto-Cubo tandem. Happi looked competent during the summer, averaging 8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1 block in 20 minutes, but whether that translates on to the court during the actual NCAA tournament is still up in the air. They have one more offseason to work out the kinks because they're definitely going to need them come next year.

Team Needs
- Legit 6'5" or taller big man who can play defense
- Pass-first point guard

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