San Juan Knights–Exile added another feather to its cap by winning the first-ever Community Basketball Association-Pilipinas National Championship.
The Knights brought down Bicol champion Naga Water Borne, 80-77, in their thrilling winner-take-all encounter to capture the title before an adoring crowd at the San Juan gym last Monday.
Judel Fuentes, Jhonard Clarito, Mike Ayonayon and Art Patrick Aquino provided the clutch baskets for the Randy Alcantara-mentored Knights Exile, who blew a 16-point lead but recovered in time to clinch the victory.
More importantly, the Joey Valencia-owned team bagged the whopping P1-million cash prize in this tournament organized by actor-director Carlo Maceda and sponsored by Globe Telecoms, Spalding and Arceegee Sports Wear.
Fuentes finished with a game-high 23 points, including six triples and four rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes of action.
Clarito, the hero in San Juan’s successful campaign in the recent MPBL Datu Cup, added 17 points and nine rebounds, while Ayonayon contributed 16 points, five rebounds and five assists.
“We’re very happy to win the CBA title. The boys worked very hard for it,” said Alcantara, who was ably assisted by San Juan team governor Chris Conwi and coach Yong Garcia.
Aquino had 10 points and nine rebounds for San Juan, which earned the right to meet Naga for the national championship by beating the General Trias Braves.
Actually, San Juan led by five points 79-74, after a split by Ayonayon.
A triple by Norman Torreno of Naga cut the lead to 77-79 before Ayonayon made it 80-77 with another split from the line with 13 seconds left.
Torreno, however, missed a game-tying three-pointer with only four seconds remaining.
Torreno finished with 20 points on 5-of-11 three-point shooting, while Jio Lopez added 13 markers and six boards in the losing effort of the Water Borne.
Shareef Kim Saladdin also contributed 10 points four assists and three rebounds.
San Juan Knights (80) – Fuentes 23, Clarito 17, Ayonayon 16, Aquino 10, Saret 6, Acol 4, Reyes 2, Ubalde 2, Astrero 0, Rosopa 0.
Naga Water Borne (77) – Torren 20, J. Lopez 13, Saladdin 10, A. Lopez 8, Reed 9, Mengoy 4, Garcia 4, Penas 3, Morada 2, Galon 2, Aransazo 1, Sumayao 1, Palencia 0, Aquino 0, Estrada 0, Caroche 0.
Quarterscores: 25-16, 40-34, 61-52, 80-77.