MPBL: San Juan nears crown

San Juan Knights (photo from MPBL Facebook)

Jhonard Clarito stepped up big in his team’s pivotal game of the series as he powered the San Juan Knights to a 67-62 triumph over the visiting Davao Occidental Tigers in Game 3 of the MPBL Datu Cup best-of-five championship series at the Filoil Flying V Arena.

A product of the De Ocampo Memorial College in the NCRAA, Clarito played his most productive game in the league, grabbing 17 rebounds on top of 12 points. He was more active in the offensive boards where he collared 11 of them resulting to San Juan’s 14 seconds chance points, half better than their rivals.

San Juan also outrebounded its rivals, 49-41, allowing the Knights to take a 2-1 lead in the series and move a win away from becoming the first ever national champion of the fastest growing regional amateur basketball league put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.

With Clarito in charge, of doing the dirty job, their natural scorers led by Mike Ayonayon and John Wilson were able to contribute in their own ways.

The high-leaping Ayonayon tallied 15 markers while Wilson chipped in 12 for the Knights.

The Knights, supported by Big J Sports, can wrap things up with another win on April 22, Monday, also at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

San Juan won despite shooting only 31-percent from the field, but its team defense which forced Davao Occidental to commit 25 turnovers, proved to be a big difference. Its defense on the Tigers’ main men — Mark Yee and Leo Najorda – was also evident.

The two ex-pros combined for only 10 points.

Yee was less active on the offensive end as he attempted only six shots, but he did manage to grab 13 rebounds.