ANGELES CITY—The visiting San Juan Knights were lights out against the Pampanga Lanterns in a 93-70 victory in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup at Angeles University Foundation Arena here on Wednesday.
Flaunting a star-laden roster, the Knights stormed to a 52-32 halftime lead and never wavered to serve notice they’ll be contending for the crown and the P10-million golden trophy that goes with it.
With the outcome beyond doubt, San Juan coach Randy Alcantara opted to shuffle his players, most of them delivering much to the disappointment of the full-house crowd that braved the intermittent rains to cheer the Lanterns.
Resigned to defeat, the Pampangueños started heading to the exits after the third quarter, which saw the Knights way ahead, 82-54.
John Wilson shone for the Knights with 20 points, followed by CJ Isit with 14, Larry Rodriguez 12 and Ryan Ayon Ayon 10.
It was the most lopsided result thus far in the 26-team field, eclipsing the Bulacan Kuyas’ 19-point blowout of the Rizal Crusaders, 80-61, at Baliwag Star Arena on Tuesday.
Former PBA star Mac Cardona, the oldest Knights player at 36 years old, said he was happy to be able to play again, adding that he’ll continue to do so as long as his body allows him.
Still rusty, Cardona contributed 9 points and 3 rebounds, but had 4 turnovers.
Pampanga drew 20 points from Allen Enriquez and 18 from Michael Juico, but no other Lantern scored in double digits.
Predictably, the Knights dominated the Lanterns in all aspects, particularly in long-range shooting where they converted 9 of 20 attempts (45%).
In addition, the Knights, who also ruled the boards, 43-31, made 14 of 18 free throws (77%) and 14 of 25 from short range (56%).
Toting 1-0 records like the Knights, who count on former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada as one of their benefactors, are Caloocan, Bulacan, Makati, Manila and Navotas in the North division.
Holding 1-0 cards in the South division are first game winner Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Marikina, Batangas City, Davao Occidental and Zamboanga.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)