By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--With 10 games left in its campaign in the MPBL Datu Cup, many thought Bataan, which is carrying along a league-record 14-game winning streak, is invincible.
Until San Juan came in town.
The Knights put the Risers' long winning streak to an end on Monday night right at the latter's own playground, the Bataan People's Center in Balanga, with a 67-61 victory.
San Juan surprised the sold-out pro-Bataan crowd in the first quarter as the team opened a 21-12 lead late in the period.
The Risers remained valiant despite the early fizzling, but the Knights kept them at bay and entered the fourth quarter ahead by 10, 54-44.
Bataan started the final period with four straight points as the team looked to mount a comeback, but San Juan quickly responded with back-to-back triples from Ced Pelayo and John Wilson to build its largest lead at 12, 60-48, with 7:32 left.
The Risers had one final push, going on a 9-1 run to cut the lead to four, 61-57, with 4:13 to go, but that was the closest they could get as the Knights held them off in the end.
Larry Rodriguez put up 19 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, and one steal off the bench for San Juan, which forced a virtual tie with its victim at the top of the Northern Division standings at 15-3. Bataan (14-2) remains at number one on a better winning percentage.
Wilson added 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Alfred Batino made 16 markers on 6-of-7 shooting, eight rebounds, two assists, and one steal for Bataan, which lost for the first time since losing its season opener at Manila on June 16.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno