Jhonard Clarito was a man among boys in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan North Division Finals, Monday night at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Coming off the bench, the 6-foot-2 energetic forward was a sparkplug in the biggest of ways, just missing a 20-20 outing with 19 points and 18 rebounds alongside four assists and two steals.
“Sipag lang. Sabi kasi sa amin ng coaches, higpitan lang ‘yung depensa, tulong-tulong lang. Bonus na lang yung mga puntos ko.“
But the soft-spoken Clarito was just doing his part, trying to contribute in lieu of veteran big man Larry Rodriguez who has been out due to a foot injury since semifinals Game Two against Pampanga-ADG Group.
“Hindi naman mapapantayan si Kuya Larry kasi iba ‘yung experience niya eh. Pero kung ano ‘yung sabihin ng coaches at ni Kuya Larry sa akin, sinusunod ko kasi sila nakakakita mula sa labas eh.”
Then when things got heated at the 7:03 mark of the third period after Makati’s Vin Importante seemed to headlock Clarito down the floor, the De Ocampo Memorial College remained cool.
Importante was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, while Clarito was called for a personal foul in the rebound play.
“Hindi talaga mawawala sa laro ‘yung pisikalan kasi siyempre Division Finals na ito eh. Basta focus lang sa game, kahit sikuhin ka man, basta huwag lang gaganti. Hindi mo naman ikamamatay ‘yung siko eh, tanggap lang nang tanggap,” the 23-year-old Clarito said.
Knights head coach Randy Alcantara commended Clarito for giving energy to his team in the second half.
“‘Yan talaga ang laro ni Jhonard — nakilala siya sa mga basura-basurang rebound. Pero ngayon may threat na mula sa labas, may drive pa. Hindi mo matatanggal sa laro ni Jhonard ‘yung rebounding niya.”
In the South Division Finals, third-ranked Basilan-Jumbo Plastic upset South leader Davao Occidental-Cocolife, 74-72, to draw first blood.
Story by Justin Valencia
Photos by Thel Suliva