MPBL: Intact San Juan Knights ready to defend crown

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 06 2019 12:17 PM

The San Juan Knights kept their championship core intact ahead of the third season of the MPBL. Handout photo

MANILA, Philippines -- After a rewarding campaign in the 2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup, San Juan Knights-Go for Gold has kept its core intact and ready for another championship run this season.

Though they added some valuable acquisitions, the Knights have mostly retained the line-up that brought them great success last year. The team believes that this core is ready to face any challenger when Season 3 of the MPBL kicks off on June 12.

"We have kept the core of our championship team, with some valuable additions to address some areas for improvement," said Go for Gold team owner Jeremy Go.

The Knights prevailed over the Davao Occidental Tigers in the Datu Cup, winning the finals in a five-game series that went the distance behind the stellar performances of of Finals MVP Rian Michael Ayon-ayon and former PBA players Larry Rodriguez, John Wilson and Mac Cardona.

Also contributing to the cause of the Knights were Jhonard Clarito, CJ Isit, Cedric Pelayo, Orlan Wamar Jr. and Jeff Tajonera, who efficiently filled the void left by injured forward Jamil Gabawan.

"I fully expect that we will defend our title," declared Go. "I know it won't be easy, because a lot of other teams got stronger."

Expected to beef up the Knights' roster are fresh acquisitions Andrew Estrella and Jessie Saitanan, along with mainstays Joseph Ubalde, Joseph Marquez, Art Patrick Aquino, Lester Reyes and Mike Salvado.

Head coach Randy Alcantara will again call the shots for the San Juan Knights-Go For Gold, with the support of his assistants Yong Garcia (1st assistant), Nani Epondulan (2nd assistant) and Gherome Ejercito (3nd assistant).

Also helping out the team are conditioning coach Philip Lee Go, physical therapist Peter James Manigan, statistician Eric Reyes, taper Domingo Narisma, utility Jose Cuyos, masseur Joen Maderazo and coordinator Jose Carillo.

"While other teams are still in the process of finding their chemistry, I believe we have the advantage with the core of our team intact and the system already in place," said team manager Jun M. Usman.

The Knights open the season with a road game against the Bacoor Strikers on June 14, then play Season 1 champion Batangas City in an out-of-town match-up in Dubai in September.

The Knights will compete in a single-round elimination against the 25 other teams to qualify in the playoffs where the top eight teams from the north and south divisions jockey for positioning to enter the finals.

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