San Juan met stiff resistance from the Bulacan Kuyas before pulling off an 89-87 squeaker in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup, Monday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Ahead by nine with just two minutes and 28 seconds left, the Knights had to fend off a closing 7-2 spurt by the Kuyas to tally their 14th win against a loss that solidified their hold of the top spot in the North division of the 31-team league.
Up by two with the clock winding down, Jhonard Clarito swatted away Bulacan’s game-tying attempt to the delight of the packed arena.
John Wilson, the league’s most prolific gunner pushed the Knights ahead, 87-78, but the Kuyas refused to surrender, banking on Gwyne Capacio to reduce the deficit before yielding their sixth loss against nine wins.
Wilson fired a game-high 24 points for coach Randy Alcantara, while Clarito came through with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Other Knights who delivered were Larry Rodriguez with 15 points, Mike Ayonayon with 14 and Andoy Estrella with 13.
The Kuyas got 18 points from Capacio, 14 from Jhon McHale Nenmal, 12 from Rev Diputado, and 11 from Stephen Siruma.
The Batangas City Athletics and the Makati Super Crunch also notched contrasting victories.
Leading virtually all the way, the Athletics dumped the Quezon City Capitals, 105-80, while the Super Crunch withstood the Binan City Laguna Heroes’ final assault to prevail, 92-87.
Powered by Jaymo Eguilos and Lester Alvarez, the Athletics continued firing up to the end to nail their ninth win in 13 starts in the South division of the 31-team field.
Alvarez fired 23 points, issued 10 assists and grabbed eight rebounds to complement the 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block effort of Eguilos.
Jason Melano added 18 points while Arvin Tolentino contributed 12 points for the Tanduay-backed Athletics, the inaugural MPBL Rajah Cup champions.
The Capitals, who got 28 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals from Aaron Black, suffered their second straight loss and fell to 6-9.
The Super Crunch felt pressure as the Heroes forged the game’s final deadlock at 75 on a layup by Allan Mangahas.
Joshua Torralba, Jheckster Apinan, and Juneric Baloria, however, combined forces to put the Super Crunch back on track with an 11-3 slate.
Pouring 10 points in the fourth quarter, Apinan wound up with 25 points plus 12 rebounds, while Torralba finished with 18 points. Baloria chipped in 12 points, followed by Kib Montalbo with 10 for the Super Crunch, who missed the services of Rudy Lingganay.
Mangahas ended up with 17 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds for the 6-9 Heroes.