San Juan and Nueva Ecija will clash for the 2022 Filbasket Summer Championship after disposing of their respective foes last Sunday at the San Jose del Monte City Sports Complex in Bulacan.
Proving that their game one win was no fluke, the Knights of San Juan completed their sweep against Tanduay with a decisive 92-81 victory,
Tanduay led 70-68 going into the last period, but the Knights began the fourth with a scorching 13-0 run, with seven points coming from CJ Isit.
A Jeckster Apinan triple pulled the Rum Masters to within five, 86-81 with a little over two minutes to go. But when Gutang finished off a fast break with a highlight-reel dunk on Cedrick Ablaza with 90 seconds left, it was all over for the Rum Masters.
Jhonard Clarito led the way for Tanduay with 15 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, and three blocks while Judel Fuentes added 15 markers as well built on three treys.
League MVP Justin Gutang tallied 14 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks, and a steal.
“To be honest I’m a little nervous and excited at the same time to be going up against my old team in the championship series,” said Gutang as he played for Nueva Ecija in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational Tournament.
The backcourt duo of Orlan Wamar and Isit also chipped in 13 and 11 markers, respectively.
Jeckster Apinan’s 20-point and 14-rebound double-double went for naught. Ralf Olivares got 20 points as well for Tanduay.
Meanwhile, Nueva Ecija romped Bacolod Bingo Plus to also advance to the title showdown, taking an 88-72 triumph.
The Capitals turned a tight game into a rout with an impressive 15-2 run in the fourth quarter, giving them an insurmountable 86-69 lead with three minutes left.
Michael Mabulac led his team with 14 points and seven rebounds while Bobby Balucanag and Byron Villarias added 10 points apiece. Hesed Gabo also glued things together for Nueva Ecija with 11 assists.
“Para sa akin big factor ang chemistry namin,” said Mabulac, who was the MVP of the MPBL Invitational tournament. “Matagal na kaming magkakasama, dalawang bubble na ang pinagsamahan namin, at tingin ko sanay na kami sa mga ganitong championship game. Pati yung mga bagong addition na players sa amin experienced players na din.”
Jerome Garcia paced the All-Star Ballers with 12 points while Richard Albo added 11 points.
The best-of-three finals begin on Wednesday.
San Juan 92 – Clarito 15, Fuentes 15, Gutang 14, Wamar 13, Isit 11, Bunag 9, Peralta 7, Ular 4, Acosta 4, Arim 0, Ibanez 0, Sarangay 0.
Tanduay 81 – Apinan 20, Olivares 20, Ablaza 11, Hernandez 9, Baloria 6, Lingganay 5, Cruz 3, Importante 3, Gonzales 2, Villanueva 2.
Quarterscores: 23-25, 47-46, 68-70, 92-81.
Nueva Ecija 88 – Mabulac 14, Balucanag 10, Villarias 10, Juico 9, Uyloan 8, Bitoon 7, Raymundo 6, Palma 6, Bringas 6, Gabo 4, McAloney 3, Siruma 3, Collado 2, Manalang 0, Taganas 0.
Bacolod 72 – Garcia 12, Albo 11, Solis 10, Casino 9, Tulipas 9, Lao 6, Ilagan 4, Dionson 4, Lee Yu 4, Maloles 2, Soriano 1, Villoria 0, Alday 0, Pastias 0, Gonzales 0.
Quarterscores: 24-14, 45-40, 65-59, 88-72.