After overwhelming Makati in the series opener of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan North Division Finals, San Juan-Go for Gold were going to go for the jugular come Game Two.
However, disaster struck for the Knights, shifting the momentum they once had to Makati’s side.
The third-ranked Super Crunch-backed squad lived to fight another day, outlasting the defending Datu Cup champions in a heart-stopping 91-88 victory to force a deciding Game Three.
But with the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) implemented in Luzon extended due to the country’s ongoing war against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the entire sporting world — including the MPBL — has been on pause for over a month now.
And San Juan star shooting guard Mike Ayonayon believes that this development will only level the playing field for both sides.
“Sa akin, may advantage at disadvantage ‘yung lockdown. Advantage kasi galing sa panalo ‘yung Makati, so nasa kanila ‘yung momentum. Kaya nung nagkaroon ng quarantine, nahinto ‘yung momentum nila,” shared the reigning Datu Cup Finals MVP, who is averaging 12.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
“Sa tingin ko, patas lang kami ng Makati ngayon, kasi parehas nakapahinga, parehas wala sa timing. So parang back to zero ulit.”
The 27-year-old also stressed that the extra break will give his teammates, especially injured players like Larry Rodriguez, more time to recuperate.
“Saka sa amin, si Kuya Larry galing injury, so makakapahinga din siya. Hopefully, makalaro na siya sa Game Three,” said Ayonayon.
Now wary of Makati, Ayonayon pointed out that the Knights must stick to the coaching staff’s schemes for them to be able to take out a hungry Makati squad.
“Sa tingin ko, ‘yung team defense namin at ball movement namin magpapanalo sa amin, at ‘yung kagustuhan manalo,” said the 6-foot guard out of Rizal.
“Ang palagi naman nire-remind sa amin ni Coach Randy [Alcantara] ay kung sino malaki ang puso, ‘yun ang mananalo.”
With a cloud of uncertainty shadowing the division finals’ return, Ayonayon vows to stay in shape and be ready for San Juan’s do-or-die clash — whenever it arrives.
Story by Jonash Dannug