San Juan and Pasig crushed their respective foes to arrange a semifinal duel in the OKBet-Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League 4th Season Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Knights weathered Valenzuela’s late assault to pull off a 90-79 victory while the Realtors caught fire down the stretch to rout Quezon City, 101-83, in Game 2 of their respective best-of-three quarterfinal showdowns.
In the series openers on 18 October, San Juan prevailed, 90-82, while Pasig flirted with disaster before eking an 84-80 overtime win to out it a win away from advancing to the semis.
Game 1 of their best-of-three semifinal duel fires off on 7 November.
But the victory of San Juan wasn’t easy.
After trailing for most part of the game, Valenzuela rallied to within eight, 74-82, in the final 1:57. But Judel Fuentes and Dexter Maiquez saved the Knights from a potential disaster when they fired back-to-back three-pointers to put the game out of reach, 88-74, with less than a minute left.
Maiquez, a former San Sebastian College star, delivered a game-high 20 points and six rebounds while Fuentes tallied 15 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals to emerge as the game’s best player.
Also chipping in for the Knights of coach Randy Alcantara were Michael Calisaan with 14 points and four rebounds, Orlan Wamar with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists and Marwin Taywan with 10 markers.
Meanwhile, Jaymar Gimpayan delivered 17 points and 14 rebounds while Reneford Ruaya and Lord Casejors added 14 and 12 markers respectively for Valenzuela, which drew fine performance from former Philippine Basketball Association star Cyrus Baguio.
Meanwhile, Ryan Costelo found his mark while Carlo Lastimosa sustained his game-long brilliance to put the Realtors on safe ground, 90-78.
Lastimosa, who used to play for College of Saint Benilde, finished with 24 points, four rebounds and two steals while Costelo dropped all of his 17 markers in the fourth period to go with four assists and three rebounds.
Robbie Manalang also submitted impressive numbers of 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Realtors.