San Juan, Davao Occ vie for MPBL title

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San Juan held Manila to just two field goals in the third period to turn a tight encounter into a rout on its way to an 85-74 victory in the third and deciding game of their Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup northern division finals at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

The Knights’ defense worked double time and made their rivals bleed for every point. The most notable victims of that were Riel Cervantes and Chris Bitoon, the two dependable players of the stars, who were grounded in the most crucial game of the series.

After playing the role as clutch performer in two of his team’s last three wins, Cervantes had suddenly turned cold. He missed all of his five attempts from the field and went on to finish the game scoreless.

Bitoon, the steadiest player on Manila’s side, struggled as well as he went only 3-for-9 from the field.

With their defense well taken care of, San Juan used its balance production.

Orlan Wamar had a breakout game while Mac Cardona had another solid output as the Big J supported-Knights claimed the north division championship on their way to set up a much-awaited encounter with the Davao Occidental Tigers-Cocolife for the best-of-five National Finals.

Wamar, an off the bench guard, finished with 19 points, his most productive output while playing for the Randy Alcantara-mentored Knights.

Cardona, on the other hand, got the better end of the matchup with his fellow ex-PBA players after unloading 18 markers.

Over at the Almendras Gym in Davao City, the Tigers of Davao Occidental ousted inaugural staging champion Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay, 66-51, and made sure that there will be a new MPBL champion this season.

Eman Calo came through five crucial points in the fourth period to weather a huge rally by Batangas City and carried Davao Occidental in winning the southern division championship.

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