San Juan Knights turn back AICC Manila to take Game 1 of FilBasket finals

San Juan's Rhenz Abando goes for a layup during Game 1 of their best-of-three finals against AICC Manila in the FilBasket Subic Championship at the Subic gym Saturday. (FilBasket Images)

San Juan City sizzled in the crunch to turn back AICC Manila, 80-74, and move a win from winning the FilBasket Subic Championship title Saturday at the Subic Gym.

Renato Ular, Larry Rodriguez, Alvin Abundo and Jhonard Clarito unleashed a 10-1 run in the last 4:29 to grab the 75-68 lead from a 66-65 deficit en route to drawing the first blood of their best-of-three finals affair.

Former University of Santo Tomas standout Rhenz Abando came off the bench with 17 points on a 6-of-9 field goal shooting as the Knights also avenged their 75-69 eliminations loss to Manila last Nov. 15.

Skipper Orlan Wamar chipped in 12 points, five rebounds and four assists while Rodriguez added 10 points and seven boards. Clarito contributed nine points, 11 rebounds and three assists.

Still enjoying a close 85-84 semifinal win over Davao Occidental Friday, San Juan started hot by padding its 15-14 lead to 40-29 at halftime.

Manila fought back with Chris Bitoon and Hesed Gabo leading a 30-18 surge to grab the 59-58 upperhand entering the fourth, but San Juan refused to be intimidated.

Gabo and Bitoon finished with 22 and 15 points for Manila, but San Juan proved too much to handle.

San Juan also banked on its bench led by Abando, Rodriguez and Ular by scoring 49 points.

Game 2 of the finals is on Sunday with the Knights aiming for a sweep.