San Juan-Go for Gold was a force to be reckoned with on its home floor, posting an immaculate 10-0 record when playing at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
San Juan faltered late, succumbing to an 88-91 loss at the hands of the third-ranked Makati-Super Crunch in the Game Two of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan North Finals, Wednesday.
The Knights found themselves on the losing end for the first time since their 66-77 Game Four defeat against Davao Occidental-Cocolife in the Datu Cup finals last April 22.
“Masakit siyempre, pero ayun nga… Sabi ko nga, wala naman kaming ibang gagawin kundi bumawi at mag-adjust doon sa mga ginawa namin, at ginawa ng kalaban,” said San Juan head coach Randy Alcantara, as the Knights also tasted their first defeat in the playoffs.
But Alcantara decided to stick with the positives rather than dwell on the heart-breaking loss. He directed the limelight to CJ Isit and Andoy Estrella, who both stepped up for the foul-plagued Mike Ayonayon and the misfiring Orlan Wamar.
Isit was vital in San Juan’s late-game rally, pouring in 10 of his 17 season-high points in the last five minutes of the game. Meanwhile, Estrella also collected 17 markers on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting clip.
“Sabi ko nga, ‘yung first unit and second unit magre-ready naman ‘yan eh.
“So ‘yun, ang maganda, ‘yun lang ang magandang nangyari ngayon — Isit talagang go hard, Andoy Estrella same. Mas maganda siguro kung masabayan pa ng mga iba namin. So ‘yun lang, itutuloy-tuloy lang namin ‘yung magandang ginawa namin ngayon tas i-correct namin ‘yung mga mali namin,” shared Alcantara.
Ayonayon fouled out with 2:30 left to play, and was limited to just seven points on a 3-of-9 clip in 20 minutes and 22 seconds of game time. Wamar, meanwhile, drained only one shot out of five for five markers.
The Mapua mentor believes that this loss will serve as a learning curve for his team, who has been at the top of the MPBL food chain ever since they entered the league.
“Siguro mas maganda na nangyari na ‘to ‘di ba? Game Three rubber match, ready lang kami, ire-ready uli ‘yung mga players,” said Alcantara.
“Adjust na lang kaming coaching staff. Papakita namin sa kanila ‘yung [lapses] sa viewing namin bukas. At least ngayon, alam na namin ‘yung puwede namin pang i-adust doon sa game na pinakita nila kanina.”
The win-or-go-home game between San Juan and Makati though has been postponed to a still-undetermined date due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Story by Jonash Dannug
Photos by Joaqui Flores