Made for the playoffs.
Mike Ayonayon proved that he is built for the big stage after carrying San Juan-Go for Gold over Pampanga-ADG Group, 86-84, Friday night at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The victory enabled the Knights to draw first blood in the best-of-three North semifinals series in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season.
Knotted at 84 with 18.3 seconds left and the shot clock off, the Datu Cup Finals MVP took Travis Thompson on an isolation play. He drove to the basket, faked a shot, then threw up a floater. His shot bounced once at the back iron before tipping in for the buzzer-beater.
“Instruction sa akin ni coach na kahit anong mangyari, kunin ko ‘yung bola at last shot na dapat. Buti pumasok ‘yung tira ko,” said the 6-foot guard out of Antipolo, Rizal.
“Lucky bounce lang talaga eh.”
Head coach Randy Alcantara revealed that he had designed the play for the Philippine Christian University standout. He then heaved a sigh of relief when Ayonayon made the basket.
“Designed play ‘yun. Wala nang oras eh, last shot, so aatakihin ni Mike. ‘Pag nag-double kay Mike, kick out kay John. Eh hindi dinouble si Mike, kaya ginawan na ng paraan ni Mike,” the young mentor said.
But the 27-year-old Ayonayon was just repaying the coaches’ trust for him to take the last shot, all despite being held scoreless in their Game Two against Pasay in the quarterfinals.
“Give credit lang ako kala coach kasi bad game ako nung Game Two versus Pasay, pero grabe pa rin ‘yung tiwala nila sa akin.” said Ayonayon, who had 12 points, six rebounds, and a steal in this game.
“Sa akin pa rin ibinigay ni Coach Randy ‘yung last shot, kaya ibinabalik ko lang sa kanila ‘yung trust.”
And that’s how you bounce back.
In the other semifinals tussle, Manila-Frontrow survived Makati-Super Crunch, 77-74, to take Game One.
Story by Justin Valencia
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