The Manila versus EPC game was the biggest match-up of the NEA. EPC was the favorite on their side of the bracket. Manila and EPC had already met twice this year, and EPC had won both games.
Coach Anthony Brewington said, "When someone beats you twice it really bothers you."
The Lions came ready get some revenge for the two previous losses. Manila played like they knew they were going to win and it really had an effect on EPC. It was almost like EPC didn't know how to play in a game where they weren't in the lead. From the beginning of the game, the Lions showed that they had come to dominate.
The Lions went to the three-point shot early and got out to a 13-8 lead. They forced EPC to take bad shots and didn't give them any second chance points. They controlled the tempo and didn't let EPC get any sort of rhythm. Manila held the lead until midway through the second quarter when EPC tied the game at 26.
"We usually play up-tempo, but you can't do that against EPC. We did a good job controlling the pace except for that one stretch in the second quarter," said Brewington.
The intensity that the Lions showed in the first quarter led to a bit of a lull in the second. The Lions hung in offensively with good post play; something that had been missing in the previous meetings.
"We made some shots that we had missed in the other games, especially in the paint. Seyler really stepped up for us tonight," remarked Brewington.
Manila took a three-point lead into the locker room at halftime. Both teams were very aggressive on defense in the third quarter. EPC was forced to take contested jumpers and the Lions turned to the penetrate and dish game.
"We had talked about penetrating to get good shots," said Brewington.
The teams went score for score through the third, and the Lions held a five-point lead as the period ended. With four minutes to go, EPC connected on its only three-pointer of the night and pulled within two. At the three-minute mark EPC went to the full court press. The press gave EPC the pace it wanted and the bucket they needed to tie the game at 51.
After another Manila shot didn't find its mark, EPC had the ball and the chance to win. EPC decided to hold the ball for the last shot, but the Lions had played too hard to give up the victory now. They shut down EPC's offense and, as they had done all night, forced them to take a tough shot. The shot missed, the ball went out of bounds, and EPC had possession again with 12 seconds left. EPC failed to score and the game went to overtime.
Manila jumped out to a lead in overtime, but EPC tied the game with a free throw at 1:20 to go. EPC was still pressing, and they got a steal and called a time-out with 1:01 on the clock. Once again, they held the ball for the last shot.
Unable to do anything against Manila's tenacious defense, EPC called another time-out with 10 seconds left. Manila didn't let them do anything offensively and the game went to its second overtime.
In the second overtime, Manila got the lead and held on to it. Down by four with the clock running out, EPC took a foul with 36 seconds on the clock. An airball three-pointer and a walking violation later, EPC had blown it's last two chances to tie the score. As the buzzer sounded on the second overtime, the scoreboard read Manila 59-EPC 55.
Coach Brewington praised Kenneth Seyler for his work in the post, Josh McCullough for handling the ball against the EPC press, and Nathan Morries for hitting key shots when they were needed.