By Ivan Saldajeno
BINAN--Makati survived a late push from San Juan to take a 78-73 win in a battle between playoff-bound teams in the MPBL Datu Cup at the Alonte Sports Arena on Monday night.
The Skyscrapers squandered an early double-digit lead, but their key guys stepped up down the stretch to preserve the victory.
Makati pummeled San Juan early on, racing to a 26-12 lead right at the start of the second quarter.
Despite the Knights responding with a 12-0 run that cut the lead to just two, the Skyscrapers answered with a 10-0 rally of their own to push it back to 12, 36-24, and appeared to be holding on.
San Juan, however, recovered in the second half, limiting Makati to just 14 points in the third quarter before lighting it up in the fourth to force a 67-all tie with 3:14 remaining.
Ced Ablaza and Joseph Sedurifa converted on crucial baskets to force a 7-2 Skyscrapers run to give them the lead for good, 74-69, before holding off the Knights in the end.
John Rey Villanueva put up 21 points on 6-for-10 shooting, nine rebounds, one assist, and four steals for Makati, which zoomed to a tie with Manila for second place in the Northern Division at 17-4.
Ablaza added 19 markers, eight boards, and two dimes.
Mike Ayonayon and John Wilson each made 15 markers for San Juan, which fell to fourth place in the North at 17-5.
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