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Davao Occidental survives San Juan to move on verge of MPBL title

SUBIC — Davao Occidental-Cocolife moved on the cusp of the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan trophy after dismantling defending champion San Juan-Go for Gold in Game Three, 66-58, Saturday at the Subic Bay Gymnasium here.

With Davao Occidental leading 56-45 in the payoff period, the defending champions dropped eight unanswered points to cut within three, 53-56.

But back-to-back threes from Joseph Terso and Kenneth Mocon steadied the ship for the Tigers with 3:29 left, 62-53.

Billy Robles missed the last minute after figuring in a collision.

The Tigers’ defense still managed to hold off a Knights surge late.

“Our defense came through. We gave only 58 points, and if we can play defense like this, we have a big chance,” said Davao head coach Don Dulay.

Down 27-41 entering the second half, the Knights went on an 11-1 blitz topped by three straight rainbow shots from Mike Ayonayon to trim their deficit to just three, 39-42.

But Bonbon Custodio came in for the Tigers to restore order. He went on a personal 8-1 rally to push their lead back to double digits, 50-40, with 1:39 left in the quarter.

Billy Robles stuffed the stat sheet for Davao with 13 points, eight rebounds, four blocks, two assists, and a steal.

Mocon also came through with 11 markers. Meanwhile, Custodio chipped in 10, all from the second half.

The Tigers shot 26-of-37 from the charity stripe, while San Juan only made 11-of-24.

Ayonayon led the Knights anew with 16 points, three rebounds, and three assists but with three turnovers.

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John Wilson unloaded 12 markers and nine boards but went a measly 4-of-15 from the field.

The Tigers look to claim the championship while the Knights aim to live another day tomorrow in Game Four tomorrow, 4 pm, at the same venue.

The Scores:

Davao Occidental 66 – Robles 13, Mocon 11, Custodio 10, Yee 7, Gaco 7, Calo 6, Ludovice 6, Terso 3, Saldua 2, Balagtas 1.

San Juan 58 – Ayonayon 16, Wilson 12, Wamar 8, Rodriguez 6, Isit 5, Clarito 5, Reyes 4, Pelayo 2, Aquino 0, Gabawan 0, Tajonera, Marquez, Estrella 0.

Quarterscores: 15-14, 41-27, 52-42, 66-58.

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