Davao Occidental Tigers Cocolife edged Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines with a thrilling 84-82 win in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Cup at Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
It was Chester Saldua who scored the game-winner in the final 23 seconds.
From then on, the Tigers weathered the storm and forced Raphy Reyes to miss both of his attempts from the perimeter before taking the win.
“They gave us a good fight and I expected that,” said Davao coach Don Dulay. “But a win is a win and I’ll take it.”
Saldua, one of Davao’s new recruits, led the way for the Tigers with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Billy Robles added 14 points, while Marco Balagtas chipped in 12.
After being held to just 12 points in the second quarter, the Tigers came roaring back with an 8-0 run to take a 40-36 lead from the Family’s Brand-backed squad early in the third period.
But Zamboanga refused to go away as Harold Arboleda rallied the Family’s Brand within fighting distance in the fourth period 77-78 with 1:46 to go.
After Ray Robles’ floater for Davao, Arboleda gunned a triple that knotted the score at 82-all in the final 39 seconds.
It was at this point where Saldua sank the go ahead basket.
Reyes still had the chance to steal the show for Zamboanga, but both attempts from the 3-point area failed to hit the mark.
Arboleda ended up with 24 points.
It was a welcome victory for Davao, which bowed to San Juan in their title joust for the MPBL Datu Cup.
But Dulay feels they still need improvement to infuse their new acquisitions to their system.
“We have a lot to work on. We need time to jell. We’ve only been practicing together for a couple of days,” he said.
“They need time to understand each other in the court.”
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