SUBIC Freeport Zone–They have won half of the battle but the San Juan Knights are not about to celebrate yet. They want the whole package–the Chooks-to-Go MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Lakan Season national title.
Hours after they pounded the crippled Makati Super Crunch, 131-54, in the deciding Game 3 on Wednesday to capture the North Division crown at the closed-door Subic Bay Gym, the Go for Gold-backed Knights are back at the hardcourt, working out, further sharpening the tools they would need to chop down either the Davao Occidental Tigers or the Basilan Steel, who would clash for supremacy in the South Division on March 17.
The Knights, being mentored by Randy Alcantara, are gearing up to duplicate their triumph in the 2019 MPBL Datu Cup and are bracing for a tough best-of-five National Finals starting on March 18.
Though satisfied with the way the Knights disposed of the five-man Super Crunch, Alcantara said during the post-game interview he would want all his players, not just the starters, to be in prime condition for the Finals.
“I told the players not to look at their opponents (underhanded Super Crunch) and they responded. They didn’t relax and exerted effort to make the win really convincing.”
Fact is, the Knights’ 77-point margin of victory was a league-record, erasing the 53-point rout of Bacoor over Paranaque, 109-56, on August 27, 2019.
The 73 rebounds grabbed by the Knights were also a new-high, surpassing Manila’s 56 boards against Mindoro, also in the Lakan Season.
The Knights, owned by former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, won the series opener on March 9, 2020, but the Super Crunch struck back in Game 2, 91-88, on March 11 before the MPBL took a forced break because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not leaving anything to chance, the Knights brought along Mike Ayonayon, who is now with the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA.
Ayonayon went on to post his first MPBL triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to earn best player honors. Chief gunner John Wilson was on target with 22 points followed by Jhonard Clarito with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Clearly, the Knights are chasing the national title.