THE Quezon City Capitals picked a perfect time to snap the Makati Skyscrapers’ 15-game winning run — and it happened at the start of their MPBL Datu Cup best-of-three quarterfinals series late Wednesday night at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Listed as Makati’s 15th victim, Quezon City bounced back strong in a hard-earned 88-77 victory and moved a win away from clinching a semifinals seat in the tough northern division.
Jay Collado finished with a career-high 27 points and led Quezon City’s torrid shooting. The Black Mamba-backed Capitals hit 11 treys while holding their rivals to just 33% shooting.
Hesed Gabo and Andoy Estrella tallied 15 points apiece while Peejay Barua contributed 10 for the Capitals, who are hoping to change the script this time by completing a series win against a higher-seeded Makati.
Coming to this game, Quezon City was ranked seventh and is tipped as the underdog to beat Makati, the hottest team in the tournament, which is seeded No. 2 in the northern division.
The Capitals are looking to complete a series win and erase the stigma of their painful setback against Valenzuela in last season’s quarterfinals series.
Earlier, San Juan Knights had to be tested by a tough Navotas Clutch side before finding a way to preserve an 81-76 win in their own best-of-three series.
The Knights turned to Mike Ayonayon who scattered 10 of his 16 points in the third period to weather repeated uprisings by the Clutch. San Juan also got plenty of help from its frontliners — Larry Rodriguez and Larry Muyang.
Rodriguez, one of the few members of the Knights squad who has a championship pedigree, had a double-double showing of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Another veteran player, Mac Cardona, also contributed big, tallying 13 markers.
Muyang, a bruising 6-foot-5 frontliner, added 10 points and eight boards. He and Rodriguez combined forces inside for the Knights, who outrebounded their rivals, 54-39. — Rey Joble