Title contender San Juan continued to serve notice of its championship aspirations in the MPBL Datu Cup, even as Manila got back to its winning ways Wednesday night at the Filoil Flying V Arena.
The Knights took the fight out early from the Pasay Voyagers as the host team buckled down to work right from the get go to fashion out a convincing 89-66 and stay unbeaten after three games, keeping a hold on the lead in the northern division of this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former league MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
Mike Ayon finished with 16 points, while ex-PBA cager John Wilson had a double-double performance of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Knights also got 10 points apiece from Aaron Jeruta and Lester Reyes, allowing the Go-For-Gold-backed squad in coasting to their third straight win.
“Sabi ko lang sa mga players, enjoy natin 'yung game, but at the same time, kailangan dumidepensa tayo at nandoon pa rin tayo sa sistema. Kung ano 'yung klaseng depensang ibibigay sa atin, kailangang ready tayo,” said San Juan coach Randy Alcantara.
The Knights came out prepared in their first-ever home game. They decided to hold the game at the Filoil Flying V Arena instead of their old home court, the San Juan Arena, and fans immediately packed the venue.
Alcantara made sure they won’t disappoint.
“Ang gusto namin huwag naming pahiyain 'yung mga taga-San Juan. Matagal na nila itong hinihintay, 'yung pagbabalik ng San Juan Knights,” said Alcantara, who was then a player for the Knights when they last won the championship in the Metropolitan Basketball Association in Year 2000.
Earlier, Manila survived a late rally by Valenzuela before eking out an 89-84 win in the first game.
Ex-PBA cager Reil Cervantes led the way, finishing with 24 points on a near perfect shooting from beyond the arc as the Robust Energy Capsule-supported Stars averted another possible endgame collapse before outlasting the Classic.