Unsung heroes came to the rescue of San Juan as it sent away visiting Davao Occidental with a well-earned 67-62 win in Game 3 of the MPBL Datu Cup National Finals, Tuesday at Filoil Flying V Centre.
With top guns John Wilson and Mac Cardona misfiring, Mike Ayonayon came through to front the Knights’ charge to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five championship round. “It’s all credit to the players dahil binigay talaga nila best nila,” deputy coach Yong Garcia said post-game.
Ayonayon top-scored with 15 points as Wilson and Cardona only chipped in, for their standards, 12 and nine markers, respectively.
When push came to shove, though, it was unheralded players such as Jonard Clarito, Lester Reyes, and Orlan Wamar who came up big.
It was those three who conspired in the 11-5 run that erased a two-point deficit at the onset of the final frame and erected a 62-58 advantage inside the last four minutes.
Bonbon Custodio tied the tally at 62-all for the Tigers, but it was Clarito who again had the answer for the home team with a follow-up basket and a split from the stripe for a 65-62 edge with 12 ticks to go.
Two defensive stops and two of four free throws by Cardona and Wilson later and San Juan moved one win away from the championship.
In the end, Clarito posted a powerful 12-point, 18-rebound double-double while Reyes and Wamar also added four markers apiece.
Those reserves made sure the Knights would lift the spirits of head coach Randy Alcantara who was hospitalized due to hypertension.
Coach Randy could celebrate even more on Monday when they try to finish the job and claim the championship on their home floor.
Davao Occidental had an unsung hero of its own as Bogs Raymundo paced them with 15 points.
SAN JUAN 67 -- Ayonayon 18, Clarito 12, Wilson 12, Cardona 9, Rodriguez 8, Wamar 4, Reyes 4, Isit 2, Jeruta 0, Muyang 0, Aquino 0, Marquez 0, Tajonera 0.
DAVAO OCCIDENTAL 62 -- Raymundo 15, Custodio 14, Terso 10, Calo 7, Yee 7, Robles 6, Najorda 3, Regalado 0, Adormeo 0, Medalla 0, Gonzales 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 13-20, 31-29, 51-53, 67-62.
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