THE family rivalry between San Juan and Manila has provided the drama more than expected in a soap opera and on Wednesday night, the two teams needed an extra five-minute stretch to settle the outcome.
In the end, San Juan, the host team, outlasted its cross city rival Manila, 84-80, to solidify its chances of staying in the upper half of the standings heading to the playoff of the MPBL Datu Cup at the Filoil Flying V Arena.
Ex-pro Larry Rodriguez completed a three-point play while Mike Ayonayon came away with a breakaway lay up in two crucial plays in the waning seconds of the extra period, allowing the Knights, supported by Go-For-Gold, to notch their 13th win in 16 meetings.
The Knights had moved up to solo second following their latest win over the Robust Energy Capsule-supported Manila Stars, who absorbed their third loss in 15 games and dropped to third spot in the tough northern conference of this tournament. With his team trailing, 80-79, Rodriguez powered his way inside and cashed in on a short stab off a foul from Chris Bitoon. He completed the three-point play with 1.05 seconds remaining in the overtime period.
The Stars had a chance of knotting the game anew after Riel Cervantes was fouled by Rodriguez with 42 seconds left. Unfortunately, the usually deadly forward missed both charities, but Manila got a new lease in life when Marcy Arellano stole the ball from Larry Muyang after the rebound scramble.
Manila got two more chances in its next offensive thrust, but failed to take advantage of it. Cervantes missed a jumper, but Aris Dionisio picked up the offensive rebound and decided to pass it out for Bitoon, who also missed a long heap. That allowed the Knights to score off a transition play as Mike Ayonayon went coast to coast for a breakaway lay up — and the insurance basket. — Rey Joble