DEFENDING champion San Juan Knights staved off the Davao Occidental Tigers, 70-65, to tie the Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Cup National Finals at 1-1 on Thursday at the Subic Bay Convention Center.
Mike Ayonayon led San Juan with 15 points, nine assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. John Wilson added 17 markers, three boards, and two steals.
Down by eight, 52-60, with 6:04 left in regulation, the Tigers came to within four, 64-68, following Eman Calo’s two free throws with 38.4 seconds remaining.
Davao then forced San Juan into a turnover with 33 seconds left, and had four tries to score a basket. Calo, however, was fouled and was sent to the free throw line with 2.6 seconds remaining.
Calo sank the first and intentionally missed the second but Jhonard Clarito collared the rebound and closed the game with two more gift shots.
Clarito nearly pulled off a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds on top of three blocks for the Knights.
Emman Calo paced the Tigers with 26 points, five rebounds, four steals, and two assists and Billy Robles provided support with a double-double output of 11 points and 10 boards plus two steals.
Davao Occidental took Game 1, 77-75.
Game 3 of this best-of-five titular series is on Saturday, March 20, still at the Subic Bay Gymnasium.
San Juan defeated the same Davao Occidental team in the Finals of the previous MPBL tournament.
SAN JUAN 70 – Wilson 17, Ayonayon 15, Clarito 9, Rodriguez 8, Reyes 4, Gabawan 4, Isit 3, Wamar 3, Estrella 3, Pelayo 3, Tajonera 1, Aquino 0, Bunag 0, Marquez 0
DAVAO OCCIDENTAL 65 – Calo 26, Yee 13, Robles 11, Balagtas 6, Mocon 2, Custodio 2, Gaco 2, Terso 1, Ludovice 1, Albo 1, Raymundo 0, Bonleon 0
Quarter scores: 15-15, 38-37, 52-50, 70-65