SUBIC — Losing the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan National Finals was not the last dance Mike Ayonayon hoped for.
Even worse, the Datu Cup Finals MVP was unable to play in the second half of the all-important Game Four.
Ayonayon admitted he had played through a left hamstring injury since Game Two, where it tightened up after suffering a collision.
And after playing 11 minutes and 16 seconds in the first half of Game Four, the shifty 6-foot guard’s hamstring tightened again. He could no longer return to the game.
As fate would have it, Mark Yee then hit the game-winning three-pointer to lift the Tigers to the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan championship, 89-88, in overtime at the Subic Bay Gymnasium here, Sunday.
Meanwhile, Ayonayon was helplessly watching all of it unfold from the sidelines.
“Sobrang sakit kasi ‘yung sa hamstring ko, hindi ko mailaro ng one-hundred percent,” said the All-MPBL First Team member.
“Wala man lang akong magawa para matulungan ‘yung team namin.”
Despite not getting the storybook ending he was hoping for, there is nothing but gratitude between Ayonayon and San Juan.
After being picked third overall in the pro league, the Philippine Christian University product still chose to finish the season with the Knights inside the Subic bubble.
“Sobrang thankful ko sa San Juan kasi kung hindi rin dahil sa kanila, hindi rin ako mabibigyan ng ganitong exposure,” he said.
Leaving the MPBL, Ayonayon had a storied two-year career in the league. He collected one championship, one Finals MVP, and an All-MPBL First Team selection in his bag.