San Juan is first MPBL national champion after getting better of Davao

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Apr 25, 2019 09:43 PM
San Juan is first MPBL national champion
To San Juan goes MPBL’s historic national championship

History has been made as San Juan came out on top of home team Davao Occidental, 87-86, in the winner-take-all matchup in the MPBL Datu Cup, Thursday at Rizal College Memorial Gym.

Mike Ayonayon starred with 33 points for the Knights who charged to a bounce back win that completes their Finals triumph over the Tigers and catapults them as the league's first-ever national champions.

It wasn't just Ayonyon doing damage, however, as the visitors actually needed the late-game heroics of Jhonard Clarito to silence the rabid crowd that gave the biggest of boosts to its home team.

The little-known forward dropped six of his 11 points in the last 65 seconds, all of which were the biggest points in the biggest season of the regional league.

Still, San Juan was down by three points in the dying moments of Game 5 of the best-of-five Finals and Clarito muffed on a short stab.

Only, it was also he himself who cleaned up his mess and pulled his team to within one, 85-86.

At the other end, the Knights crowded both Mark Yee and Bonbon Custodio and claimed a defensive stop before advancing the ball to their side of the court with a timeout.

Ayonayon inbounded the ball to Clarito who wasted no time working his way inside and willing in a shot right through Billy Ray Robles and Yee.

That cold-blooded make lifted San Juan to the all-important decision, just two days after a late-game collapse delayed its championship celebration.

Alongside Ayonayon and Clarito, ex-pros Larry Rodriguez and Mac Cardona contributed 15 and 12 points, respectively.

That total team effort made sure they overcame the Tigers' 34-11 run bridging the second and third periods that erased a 34-49 deficit and erected a 68-60 advantage in their favor.

For Davao Occidental, Yee topped the scoring column with 27 points on top of seven rebounds while Bonbon Custodio also added 19 markers to go along with five steals.

Without any answer for Clarito in the endgame, however, they would have to settle for a runner-up finish.


SAN JUAN 87 -- Ayonayon 33, Rodriguez 15, Cardona 12, Clarito 11, Wilson 8, Reyes 4, Wamar 3, Isit 1, Jeruta 0, Aquino 0, Muyang 0, Tajonera 0, Marquez 0.

DAVAO OCCIDENTAL 86 -- Yee 27, Custodio 19, Adormeo 12, Calo 10, Terso 5, Ombecan 5, Najorda 3, Lamocha 3, Robles 2, Raymundo 0, Regalado 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 21-15, 49-35, 63-68, 87-86.


Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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