MANILA, Philippines – The 10-month grind in the MPBL Datu Cup is not yet over as the Davao Occidental Tigers forced a do-or-die 2019 National Finals Game 5 against the San Juan Knights, 77-66, at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Monday, April 22.
Billy Ray Robles was virtually unstoppable in the payoff period, finishing with a crowd-silencing 22-point, 18-rebound performance. Mark Yee and Joseph Terso backstopped the Tigers' road rally with 14 and 11 markers, respectively.
"You can see my guys fighting the whole game," head coach Don Dulay said. "We had some lapses and I just kept on telling my guys if we fix those turnovers, defensive lapses, we'll be okay."
After a grinded-out, back-and-forth 1st half between the two squads, Wamar kickstarted an 8-0 run with consecutive triples before Wilson capped it off with a layup, 46-37.
This short run would prove to be crucial, as Mark Yee and the Tigers responded immediately with a 7-0 blitz of their own to inch within 2, 44-46. Not to be outdone, San Juan ended the quarter with a 7-1 run of their own to establish a 53-45 advantage headed to the payoff period.
With their backs against the wall on the road, Davao Occidental cranked up the defense in the 4th and nabbed a comfortable 68-61 lead off a massive 21-4 run as Robles went all-out on his putbacks and drives. This proved to be final run the Tigers needed to fend off the pesky Knights down the stretch.
Former PBA veteran John Wilson tallied a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double to power San Juan but ran out of gas when it mattered most. Streaky guard Orlan Wamar sparked the Knights' bench with 19 markers on 4/7 shooting from downtown while "Captain Hook" Mac Cardona only managed 9 markers on a 4/15 clip.
Momentum of the best-of-5 series now shifts back to Davao on Thursday, April 25, as the Tigers attempt to finish the season on top for good.
Davao Occidental 77 – Robles 22, Yee 14, Terso 11, Calo 10, Najorda 8, Custodio 7, Raymundo 3, Lamocha 2, Regalado 0, Adormeo 0, Medalla 0, Gonzales 0.
San Juan 66 – Wamar 19, Wilson 17, Cardona 9, Rodriguez 6, Ayonayon 4, Clarito 4, Jeruta 3, Muyang 2, Aquino 0, Marquez 0.
Quarters: 12-17, 29-34, 45-53, 77-66.