By Adrian Stewart Co
San Juan Knights-Go for Gold entered the finals of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Cup after a 131-54 rout of Makati Super Crunch in the do-or-die Game 3 of the North Division finals at Subic Bay Gymnasium.
John Wilson led the way with 22 points, including four three-point conversions, while Jhonard Clarito added double-double 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Knights, which returned to the finals after finishing off the shorthanded Makati, 2-1.
Orlan Wamar finished with 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds while Mike Ayonayon chipped in triple-double 11 assists, 10 points and 10 rebounds for the defending champions San Juan.
The Knights will wait for the winner of the South Division finals do-or-die Game 3 between Basilan Steel and Davao Occidental Tigers-Cocolife for their opponent in the best-of-five finale.
The Steel-Tigers rubber match was postponed to a later date as the Basilan team was under seven-day quarantine as one of its players tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019.
Facing a Makati team that was decimated to just five players, San Juan jumped to a 15-0 start on three straight baskets from Jamil Gabawan and Larry Rodriguez and outside baskets from Wilson.
The Super Crunch did not have some fight in them as they were run around by the powerhouse San Juan, which led by as much as 78 points at 121-43 on a basket by Joseph Marquez.
“Sinabi ko sa mga players huwag tumingin kung sino ang kalaban namin. Ipinakita ng mga players na hindi sila nag-relax, nag-effort pa rin sila para makita na convincing win talaga,” said Knights head coach Randy Alcantara.
Edwin Asoro finished the match with 21 points, Mark Lester Sta. Maria added 14 markers, while MPBL Slam Dunk champion David Carlos contributed nine points for the depleted Makati.
The Super Crunch were forced to suit up with just five players in the North Division finals rubber match due to a dispute between players and management over their salaries.
SAN JUAN 131 – Wilson 22, Clarito 20, Wamar 14, Ayonayon 10, Gabawan 9, Pelayo 9, Rodriguez 8, Bunag 8, Ubalde 8, Aquino 6, Isit 5, Reyes 4, Marquez 4, Estrella 2, Tajonera 2.
MAKATI 54 – Asoro 21, Sta. Maria 14, Carlos 9, Morales 6, Lloren 4.
Quarterscores: 38-11, 64-17, 94-36, 131-54./ASC, WDJ