JOHN Wilson showed the way for San Juan as it turned back Pampanga, 91-83, and advanced to the North Division Finals of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup playoffs Wednesday at San Andres Sports Complex in Manila.
The league's leading scorer fired 26 points, six rebounds, five assists, and five steals, including the insurance freebies that allowed the Knights to stave off the Giant Lanterns' late rally and sweep the best-of-three series.
"Lumabas na naman yung malaking puso ng mga players ko. Meron akong tiwala sa players ko, from first unit, second, and third ready lahat yan," said coach Randy Alcantara.
Larry Rodriguez and the rest of the bench celebrate after a successful Knights play.
Jhonard Clarito notched a double-double of 14 points and 14 boards, together with four steals for the Go for Gold-backed San Juan.
CJ Isit also produced a season-best 13-point output, on top of four assists, and four rebounds, as Mike Ayonayon also scored 13.
"Di rin matatawaran yung leaders namin like John and Mike. Talagang sinabi lang namin na kailangang pumukpok kami sa depensa kahit sino ang gamitin, maliit man kami o malaki. Alam naman namin throughout the season mapupunta kami sa maliit kami so talagang ready sila doon," said Alcantara.
It's the quartet which sparked an 11-3 run that turned the game from a tight 75-70 affair to an 86-73 lead with 3:06 remaining.
Dexter Maiquez brought Pampanga within seven, 88-81, with 1:01 left, but Wilson canned three of his four charities in the final minute to lock up the victory for San Juan.
It was a hard-fought duel which saw Giant Lanterns guard Michael Juico ejected with a disqualifying foul with 37 seconds left in the opening frame after hitting Art Aquino with a closed fist.
Reil Cervantes was also whistled for a flagrant foul penalty one after elbowing Clarito in the third frame, while Alcantara was charged with a technical foul when Knights team owner Jinggoy Estrada entered the court.
Maiquez carried the ADG Group of Companies-backed Pampanga with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists, as Levi Hernandez had 17 points in the defeat.
SAN JUAN 91 -- Wilson 26, Clarito 14, Ayonayon 13, Isit 13, Estrella 8, Tajonera 5, Gabawan 4, Wamar 3, Aquino 3, Bunag 2, Rodriguez 0, Reyes 0.
PAMPANGA 83 -- Maiquez 18, Hernandez 17, Cervantes 14, Muyang 10, Apreku 7, Cruz 6, Thompson 4, Alberto 4, Gomez 2, Fabian 1, Concepcion 0, Juico 0.
Quarters: 26-25, 48-50, 69-64, 91-83.