Reigning champion San Juan Knights displayed their vicious form late Wednesday night and ran roughshod over expansion team Bacolod-Master Sardines, 95-71, in the MPBL Lakan Season at the Olivarez College Gym.
John Wilson poured in 22 points and Jhonard Clarito, the hero of last season’s finals, contributed 16 as the Knights remained unbeaten in four games to move up to solo lead in this tournament put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend and former MVP Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
“I just told the players, kailangan business as usual pa rin kami. Yung mga teams naglakasan ngayon. Whether we are facing an A-grade team or a marginal team, dapat parehas lang ang level ng intensity of play namin,” said San Juan coach Randy Alcantara.
Iloilo and Parañaque got back on the winning track after they hurdled their respective rivals.
The United Royals of Iloilo squandered a 19-point lead, but held on to escapes with a 92-90 victory over fellow newcomer Nueva Ecija-MiGuards.
It was the third win in four games for the United Royals, but their latest win is not something head coach Eric Gonzales will be proud of.
“Yes, a win is a win, but I’m not satisfied,” added Gonzales. “Feeling ko kanina yung mga players ko parang nagta-tryout kais nagpapasiklab.”
Parañaque, on the other hand, turned to old reliables Jemal Vizcarra and Popoy Banzali in putting away Navotas, 82-71.
Vizcarra combined for the Patriots’ last nine points as they fended off a late uprising by the Clutch, who lost their second game in three starts. Parañaque improved its win-loss record to 2-3.
Senator Pacquiao launched the MPBL on August 29, 2017. The league is not intended to be a competitor to the Philippine Basketball Association, the country’s top professional basketball league according to the senator.
The MPBL combines a local team with a corporate sponsor. This results in the best of both worlds. A grassroots teams of a community is funded by a company by serving as its advertising vehicle.