San Juan outlasts Manila in OT; Imus rallies to stun Valenzuela

San Juan outlasts Manila in OT; Imus rallies to stun Valenzuela

MANILA, Philippines – They were supposed to be “sister teams,” but the San Juan Knights and the Manila Stars turned out to be bitter rivals on the court Wednesday night.

In the end, the Knights prevailed in overtime, 84-80, to the delight of the big hometown crowd that trooped to the Filoil Flying V Centre to watch the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup in San Juan.

Larry Rodriguez put the Knights back on the saddle with a three-point play before fouling out while Ryan Ayonayon sealed the thriller with a breakaway layup that pushed the Knights' record to 13-3 in the North division of the 26-team league.

The 6-foot-5 Rodriguez wound up with 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Go for Gold-backed Knights of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and businessman Jay Cancio, while John Wilson added 18 points, including four triples.

The Stars, being supported by Robust Energy Capsule, was cheered on by former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who watched his team rally from a 51-62 third quarter deficit to force overtime at 70-70.

Reil Cervantes shot a game-high 24 points for the Stars, but these went for naught as he flubbed two free throws that could have knotted the count at 82.

Before the crucial charity misses, Chris Bitoon had pushed the Stars, who saw their win-run end at five for a 12-3 slate, ahead through five straight points, 80-79.

With Wilson and Mac Cardona finding their groove, the Knights surged ahead, 41-30, at halftime.

Earlier, Imus Bandera banked on a jumper by Matthew Bernabe with 15 seconds left to complete a come-from-behind victory over Navotas Clutch, 79-78.

Way behind at 30-56, the Bandera, behind James Castro, Ian Melencio and Jomari Sollano, slowly clawed their way back to within six points in the last two minutes, before pulling off the stunner that raised their record to 7-6.

The Clutch suffered their third straight defeat and slid to 5-9.

Castro wound up with 20 points, followed by Melencio with 15 and Sollano with 13. The 24-year-old Bernabe, a 5-foot-9 guard, and Jonathan Rivera contributed 11 points each for the GLC Trucks and Equipments-backed Bandera.

Jai Reyes, who missed a triple that could have reversed the outcome, topscored for the Clutch with 17, followed by Marlon Gomez with 16, Ron Dennison 13, and Joe Trinidad 11.

The MPBL visits the Bulacan Capitol Gymnasium in Malolos with a twinbill featuring Pampanga against Laguna at 7 p.m. and Bulacan against Pasay at 9 p.m.