After 10-month grind, San Juan emerges as new MPBL king
MANILA, Philippines – After a 10-month grind, the San Juan Knights pulled off a thrilling 87-86 stunner over home team Davao Occidental Tigers to rule the 2019 MPBL National Finals late Thursday night, April 25, at the Rizal Memorial College Gym in Davao.
Mike Ayonayon erupted for 33 points and 2 steals to lead the Knights, but role player Jhonard Clarito also shone with 11 points and two heroic buckets in the clutch of the do-or-die Game 5.
Ayonayon bagged the Finals MVP while Knights head coach Randy Alcantara won the Coach of the Year honor.
Down 7 with just 3:43 left in regulation after leading by as many as 15, the Knights leaned on Ayonayon and Clarito, who led a much-needed 6-0 run in the clutch to tow the team within a point, 83-84.
After Mark Yee went 2-of-2 from the line, Clarito scrambled to the other end and somehow guided his own miss back to the cup with 40 ticks left.
Emman Calo tried to stick the dagger with a three on the other end but missed as Clarito corralled the board.
Off the timeout, Clarito drove hard from the inbound pass and sank one more layup for the one-point lead with 8.9 seconds to go.
Calo tried to win it back on the other end, but his go-ahead layup rimmed out. Clarito grabbed one last board for the win and the national championship amid deafening silence from the stunned Davaoeños in attendance.
“Hindi ko alam kung paano ko paniniwalaan ito,” said Alcantara, who also played for the Knights that won the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), a precursor of the MPBL, in 2000. “Grabe yung nilaro ng mga players, they didn’t give up."
(It’s really hard to believe. But the players really played so hard, they didn’t give up.)
Yee paced the Tigers' failed home stand with 27 points and 7 rebounds while Bonbon Custodio added 19 markers and 4 boards. – Rappler.com
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