SUBIC –The best of the North against the beast of the South.
This will be the theme when North Division champion San Juan Knights and South Division winner Davao Occidental Tigers clash in the best-of-five Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season National Finals starting at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17, at the closed-door Subic Bay Gym.
The Go for Gold-backed Knights, the 2019 MPBL Datu Cup titlists, routed the crippled Makati Super Crunch, 131-54, on March 10 to assert their supremacy in the North while the Cocolife-supported Tigers got free passage to the South title following the unfortunate exit of the Basilan Steel from the Chooks-to-Go MPBL bubble here.
The Steel forfeited their Game 3 decider with the Tigers on Wednesday after four of their players turned positive for COVID-19 in the re-swab held Monday.
The infected players will be fetched by their local government units, but if they can’t be accommodated by their LGUs they will be confined at the local hospital.
“We’re adhering to the protocols and guidelines given us by the DOH (Department of Health) and the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) for this bubble,” said MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.
Both the Knights and the Tigers have intact rosters for the Finals to be shown on A2Z and the official MPBL Facebook page.
Apart from top gun and Most Valuable Player contender John Wilson, rising star Jhonard Clarito, veteran Larry Rodriguez, the Knights of Coach Randy Alcantara brought along Mike Ayonayon, who was given permission by the NLEX Road Warriors to temporarily rejoin the Knights upon the intercession of team owner former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.
Ayonayon was named MVP of the MPBL National Finals.
The Tigers of Coach Don Dulay will be led by Mark Yee, Billy Robles, Bonbon Custodio and Joseph Terso.
According to Davao assistant coach Manu Inigo, the Tigers are all healthy and ready to get back at the Knights, who bested them, 3-2, for the Datu Cup title.
Game 2 of the National Finals is on Thursday while Game 3 is set for Friday.
If necessary, Game 4 will be held Saturday and Game 5 Sunday.