Davao Occidental turns to defense in OT to stun reigning champ San Juan in MPBL finals

Published March 17, 2021, 8:01 PM

by Jeremiah Sevilla

Photo from MPBL

Veteran forward Mark Yee towed Davao Occidental-Cocolife to a 77-75 overtime victory over defending champion San Juan-Go For Gold in Game 1 of the MPBL Lakan Cup National Finals on Wednesday night, March 17, at the Subic Gymnasium. 

Yee scored five of the Tigers’ nine points in the extension period, including the last three markers via free throws before they made huge defensive stops to draw first blood in the best-of-five championship series.

“This just shows the character of our team. We don’t give up. Playing with San Juan, it’s different, we kind of like (thinking about) payback,” said Davao head coach Don Dulay, whose men came back from an 11-point deficit. 

After Yee sank two freebies off a steal to hand Davao a 76-75 lead with 19.3 seconds left in the game, Billy Ray Robles denied San Juan’s star guard Mike Ayonayon who went for a game-winning layup. 

The former PBA standout Yee then split from the line with 2.7 ticks remaining before the Tigers intercepted the Knights’ last inbound pass for the final count. 

Yee dropped a team-high tying 15 points to go with eight rebounds, four steals and three assists in the close win. 

Emman Calo also fired 15 points on top of five boards  and Bonbon Custodio chipped in 12 markers, three rebounds and three assists in the win. 

Datu Cup Finals MVP Ayonayon’s game-best 27 points, five dimes and three boards went down the drain along with John Wilson’s 15 markers and seven rebounds for San Juan. 

The scores:

Davao Occidental 77 – Yee 15, Calo 15, Custodio 12, Mocon 9, Robles 9, Balagtas 6, Terso 5, Saldua 2, Ludovice 2, Gaco 2, Albo 0. 

San Juan 75 – Ayonayon 27, Wilson 15, Clarito 9, Rodriguez 9, Isit 4, Tajonera 3, Gabawan 2, Estrella 2, Pelayo 2, Reyes 2, Wamar 0, Aquino 0. 
Quarterscores: 15-15, 30-30, 43-49, 68-68, 77-75.