IT'S a homecoming Jhonard Clarito isn't exactly looking forward to.
The Davao del Sur-born forward is intent on helping San Juan close out Davao Occidental in the the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup National Finals and win the championship in the Knights home floor.
"Syempre di na namin pababalikin ng Davao yung series kasi all-out na kami. Dapat dito pa lang, yung effort ngayon dagdagan na namin. Hanggang kaya namin, buhos na kami," said Clarito, looking forward to Game Four on Monday.
The 6-2 Clarito played a pivotal role in San Juan's 67-62 Game Three win over Davao Occidental on Tuesday that put his side on the hill in the best-of-five titular battle.
The De Ocampo Memorial College product unloaded 12 points, 18 rebounds, three steals, two assists, and two blocks to steal the spotlight from fancied teammates Mac Cardona, John Wilson, and Larry Rodriguez.
But Clarito said his performance wouldn't have been possible if not for the motivating words from his veteran teammates.
"Sinabi lang ng mga ex-PBA players sa akin na kung magkamali man ako, bawi lang. Tsaka yung effort ko lang ang ginawa ko para makatulong sa team. Kahit hindi ako scorer, yung pinapagawa sa akin na rebounds at defense, yun lang ang ginagawa ko," he said.
Clarito hasn't been scared to go down and dirty for the Knights, cleaning up Mike Ayonayon's miss for the go-ahead bucket, 64-62 with 55.7 seconds remaining which proved to be the game's most important basket.
With San Juan on the cusp of snaring the MPBL championship, Clarito is also aware of what this triumph can do for his career.
"Gusto kong mapatunayan sa sarili ko na kaya kong maglaro sa mataas na liga, na makita ng ibang tao na sumusuporta sa amin na kaya kong makipagsabayan," he said.
That's why for Clarito and the rest of the Knights, Game Four at Filoil Flying V Centre is nothing short of a must-win.
"Bawal kaming matalo sa home court," he said. "Ibibigay ko lang yung best ko sa game, mag-focus ako sa laro ko, at gawin ko lang ang sinabi ng coach. Sa Game Four, mas dadagdagan ko pa ang effort."