MPBL: Baltazar block seals San Juan win at Makati

Bob Guerrero on Nov 26, 2019 10:01 AM
 MPBL: Baltazar block seals San Juan win at Makati
San Juan's Justine Baltazar made the game-saving block against Makati.

In a showdown between the top two teams in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season, The San Juan Knights Go For Gold prevailed 88-86 over Makati Super Crunch in a Monday night thriller at the Makati Coliseum.

It was a high-scoring game that entertained a large Makatizen crowd, but in the end a defensive stop clinched it for the Knights.

Down 88-86 with 12 seconds to go, Makati's Jeckster Apinan launched a baseline drive, speeding past his defender, Justin Baltazar. But Baltazar, a La Salle standout, stretched out a hand and somehow managed to block Apinan's shot from behind. San Juan grabbed the loose ball and ran the clock out for the win, silencing the arena.

"Composure," said San Juan skipper John Wilson when asked what impressed him about his team mates during the game. "Sa endgame nandoon ang mindset nila."

Wilson finished with a game high 22 points, but Baltazar was also excellent, scoring 16 points and hauling down 18 rebounds to go along with his game-winning blank.

San Juan started well, with Jeff Tajonera, John Wilson, and Mike Ayonayon hitting five three pointers as they led 31-22 at the start of the second.

In the second Makati picked up good production from Jeckster Apinan and Cedric Ablaza as they pulled to within one at the break, 45-44. The teams traded runs but in the end of the third San Juan led 70-68.

A spin move lay-up of the glass from Ablaza pulled Super Crunch within two, 85-83, with a minute left. Mike Ayonayon and Apinan traded baskets and Cedric Ablaza and Baltazar traded splits from the line to set up the dramatic finish.

Go For Gold goes to 19-2, atop the North Division, with a fifth straight win while Makati slides to 18-4 but still in third in the North.

In the early evening contest the Bicol Volcanoes LCC Stores won a crucial game with playoff implications, 77-67, against the Cebu Sharks Casino Ethyl Alcohol.

Monel Kallos' charges continue their good run of form, improving to 13-11 with a 5th consecutive win that gets them to 8th place in the South Division. Languishing in 9th, outside of the playoff range is a Casino Ethyl Alcohol team that has absorbed a second straight setback.

Bicol led by as much as 19 in the third and the period finished with the Volcanoes leading 61-44. With under four minutes to go Antonio Coronel scored a driving lay-up that finished a 9-0 run for Cebu that gave them a glimmer of hope at 68-59.

But with just under two minute s left Jerome Garcia of Bicol produced the dagger, a step-back 3 for a 73-60 lead that sealed Cebu's doom.

Alwyn Alday led Bicol with 19 points, with Ronjay Buenafe contributing 16. Will McAloney was tops for Cebu with 18 markers and 13 boards.

In the first clash of the day the Bulacan Kuyas finished with a 5-0 burst in the last two minutes of overtime to knock down the Bataan Risers, 81-79.

Lester Alvarez and Shaq Taganas led the Bulakenos in scoring with 13 and 12 points respectively. Bulacan goes to 14-8 and puts pressure on the top 4 clubs in the North Division.

Bataan slips to 14-9. A 6-0 blast driven by Bataan's Reed Juntilla pulled them to within 1, 58-57 at the close of the third period.

Byron Villarias and Gino Jumao-as hit triples for the Risers, spurring them to a 68-62 advantage halfway through the period.

But in the end of regulation it was Bulacan's Stephen Siruma who struck a trey with 35 seconds left to tie the game at 73. Bataan squandered two late chances to end the game in regulation.

In overtime Bataan had the hot start but a Siruma layup and John Ray Alabanza floating jumper put Bulacan up front 80-79 with 1:26 left. Shaq Taganas added a free throw and Bataan had one last chance to win but Juntilla did not connect on his desperation three-point heave in the end. Alfred Batino led Bataan in scoring with 24 points.

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