Angeles City--San Juan and Pampanga swept their opponents Thursday night and forged a semifinals tussle in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season North division at AUF Arena here.
The San Juan Knights blitzed the Pasay Voyagers in the homestretch to prevail, 74-67, while the Pampanga Giant Lanterns leaned on Dexter Maiquez to repel the Bataan Risers, 83-80, as they both cut short the best-of-three quarterfinal playoffs at 2-0. Maiquez scored Pampanga’s last six points as the Giant Lanterns, egged on by the overflow crowd, overtook the Risers, who briefly led at 78-77 following a triple by Reed Juntilla.
Using his stocky body and pro experience wisely, Maiquez finished with 19 points and nine rebounds to tow his home province to its 10th straight victory dating back to the eliminations round where the ADG Group -backed Giant Lanterns emerged the fourth seed in the
Fellow homegrown talents Mike Juico, Levi Hernandez and Larry Muyang complemented Maiquez’s heroics with 14, 14 and 13 points, respectively. The 6-foot-5 Muyang added 11 rebounds as Pampanga routed Bataan off the boards, 48-30.
Bataan, being backed by Camaya Coast, fell despite the efforts of Juntilla and Chito Jaime, who finished with 22 and 21 points, respectively.
The Knights, the Datu Cup champions, also tripped the Voyagers, 75-74, while the Giant Lanterns trounced the Risers, 71-64, in the series openers on February 15.
Tied at 62 with 2:33 to go, San Juan sped away from Pasay following an 11-2 salvo sparked by top gun John Wilson and completed by CJ Isit and Orlan Wamar, 73-64, only 17.5 seconds to go.
Wilson wound up with 17 points and 16 rebounds, followed by Jhonard Clarito with 13 points and 12 boards.
Orlan Wamar chipped in 10 points for San Juan, which lost starting center Larry Rodriguez early in the third quarter after incurring his second technical foul.
Hometown fans, led by team owner Cong. Dong Gonzales, and Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda, lauded the efforts of the Giant Lanterns.
Pampanga head coach Bong Ramos, said they need to work even harder in the semifinals.
“We really need to refine our endgame execution, especially when we meet defending champion San Juan in the semis,” said Ramos.