Legaspi City – San Juan found a savior in Mike Ayonayon as the Knights battled back from grave danger to trounce the Bataan Risers, 87-79, in overtime on Saturday, July 27, and remain unbeaten in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season at Ibalong Centrum for Recreation here.
Showing the form that made him the Datu Cup Finals MVP, Ayonayon made all but one of the Knights’ 11-point windup as they overhauled an 11-point deficit with less than two minutes to go to forge extension at 72-72 and keep top spot with win No. 7.
Making sure his effort won’t go to waste, the highflying Ayonayon added five points in extra time where he was supported by John Wilson, Jhonard Clarito and Art Aquino to hand the Risers their fourth loss in seven games.
The 6-foot Ayonayon wound up with 18 points, next to Wilson’s 22, Larry Rodriguez’s 11 and Mac Cardona’s 10 as the Knights stayed on course toward repeating their title run in the Datu Cup.
The full-packed crowd at Ibalong Centrum for Recreation, however, went home disappointed after the Bicol Volcanoes bowed to the Iloilo United Royals, 74-79, in the nightcap.
Trailing most of the way, the Volcanoes threatened at 74-75 on a triple by Jonathan Aldave.
The Royals, however, held their ground on a free throw each by Richard Escoto and RR De Leon to climb to 4-3, just below the 5-3 Volcanoes.
The 6-foot-4 Escoto, a former Far Eastern University Tamaraw, ended up with 21 points and 8 rebounds, while De Leon contributed 17 points and 8 rebounds.
Hounded by the Royals throughout, Bicol’s top gun Ryan Buenafe missed all his nine field goal attempts and settled for 10 charity points.