San Juan-Go for Gold averted a major collapse, escaping gutsy Iloilo, 70-67, in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season, Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
With his team down by 12 points in the final frame, IloIlo’s Rey Publico poured in five points in a crucial 12-1 blast. The run also included a putback which sliced the Knights’ lead to a solitary point, 67-68, with 59 seconds remaining in the game.
The Royals then forced a shot clock violation on the defending champions, paving the way for a floater from Aaron Jeruta. Unfortunately, though, he saw it blocked by Mike Ayonayon.
Jhonard Clarito picked up a foul from Alfrancis Tamsi with 3.2 seconds left, draining two clutch free throws to give San Juan a three-point cushion. Publico missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with 2.4 ticks, spelling doom for Iloilo.
“Sabi ko nga, a win is a win. Pero siyempre, Iloilo ‘yan. May sistema, lahat kumpleto, coaching staff, players. Bigay ko ‘yung credit sa kanila, ready talaga sila. Buti na lang na-shoot ni Jhonard [Clarito] ‘yung huli,” said San Juan head coach Randy Alcantara.
Clarito pumped in 22 points, eight rebounds, and four steals for the league-leading San Juan.
John Wilson chipped in 12 points on a horrid 4-of-17 clip laced with eight rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Orlan Wamar also had 12 markers, while Ayonayon finished the game with 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
The Knights now stand at 24-3 in the Northern Division — a game behind second-running Manila-Frontrow.
On the other hand, Former Letran stalwart Publico finished with a double-double performance of 17 points and 10 rebounds for the 16-11 Iloilo.
Richard Escoto provided 13 points, five assists, four rebounds, and four steals, while Tamsi had 10 points and four rebounds in a losing effort.
The Royals are now tied with Zamboanga-Family’s Brand Sardines for the fifth spot in the South Division.
San Juan-Go-for-Gold (70) – Clarito 22, Wilson 12, Wamar 12, Ayonayon 11, Aquino 8, Rodriguez 4, Bunag 1, Victoria 0, Reyes 0, Isit 0, Subido 0, Estrella 0, Tajonera 0
IloIlo-United (67) – Publico 17, Escoto 13, Tamsi 10, Prado 7, Jaboneta 4, Arambulo 4, Jeruta 3, Gumaru 3, de Joya 3, Mahari 0, Rodriguez 0, Pantin 0, Racho 0
Quarterscores: 16-20, 42-33, 61-51, 70-67
Story by Jonash Dannug
Photo by Thel Suliva