Knights, Risers catch up with Stars for MPBL lead

Knights, Risers catch up with Stars for MPBL lead

MANILA, Philippines – The San Juan Knights prevailed the easy way while the Bataan Risers settled for a shaky victory Wednesday night in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup at Bataan People's Center in Balanga.

Powered by former pros Mac Cardona and Larry Rodriguez, the Knights clobbered the Pasig Pirates, 87-60, even as the Risers thwarted the Valenzuela Classic, 59-55, to gain a share of top spot in the North division.

The Knights and the Risers raised their win-loss records to 7-1 and caught up with the Manila Stars at the helm.

Former pro Garry David and John Bayron Villarias contributed 16 points each while Pamboy Raymundo added 13 for the Risers, who are on a seven-game roll after dropping their initial game.

Exploiting their edge in height and heft, the Knights scored 60 points from close range while holding the Pirates to just 28 for the glaring disparity that pulled down the Pirates deeper at 1-7.

With their starters clicking, the Knights surged ahead, 19-6, after the first quarter and hinted of the lopsided outcome by padding their lead to 38-18 at halftime.

Showing glimpses of why he became a five-time PBA All-Star, the 36-year-old Cardona wound up with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists for the Knights of coach Randy Alcantara.

Rodriguez added 12 points and 8 rebounds, Mike Ayon Ayon 14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, while Jamil Gabawan chipped in 11.

Alcantara had the luxury of shuffling 15 players, only one of whom failed to score against the Pirates, who fell to 1-7 as only Jonathan Aldave tallied twin digits with 15.