TAGUM CITY — Basilan-Jumbo Plastic head coach Jerson Cabiltes placed all his chips on Hesed Gabo in the Steel’s Game One bout against Davao Occidental-Cocolife in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan South Division Finals.
Fortunately for him, lead floor general Hesed Gabo did not disappoint.
In Davao’s final timeout in the 57-second mark of the fourth period, Cabiltes told his wards — currently ahead by three, 71-68 — that he would not sue for time in case the Tigers hit a shot on the other end.
After all, he trusted Gabo, who already had 12 assists during that time, to make the right decision for the team.
“He’s a very smart player, he knows what to do. Sabi ko, I have one timeout, pero I’m not gonna call it if they score. So nangyari nga and he pushed the ball — ayun nagkaroon ng opportunity,” revealed Cabiltes.
Not wanting to go down without a fight on their home floor, the Tigers scored four straight points off a split from the line by Billy Ray Robles then a triple by Kenneth Mocon, to give Davao a 72-71 lead.
Armed with his mentor’s unwavering trust, the 26-year-old Gabo then read the defense perfectly. He went for a coast-to-coast floater — his only basket in the game — to retake the lead for Basilan with 36.3 remaining.
Gabo’s go-ahead basket paved the way for Jay Collado and Allyn Bulanadi to put up the finishing touches as Basilan escaped with a 74-72 victory over the Datu Cup runners-up.
“That’s my only point. Buong laro I kept dishing out to my teammates, na-figure out ko lang na medyo magsa-sag down sila sa akin. So wala, tinake ko lang ‘yung moment,” shared the 5-foot-9 Gabo.
The product of Mapua finished 12 assists on top of two points and four rebounds.
“Ako talaga, binibigay ko ‘yung credit kay coach Jerson, sobrang mag-prepare, in terms of scouting, in terms of offensive patterns… Talagang hands up ako kay coach,” said Gabo.
Gabo, though, isn’t celebrating yet, as he believes that Davao will bring out the big guns come Game Two. Nevertheless, he vows to do whatever it takes to take the win on Lamitan Gymnasium for their home fans.
“We’ll try to get it there, we have to protect our home and we have to give it to the people there.”
In Game One of the North Division Finals, San Juan-Go for Gold moved a win away from the national finals after 76-60 mauling of Makati-Super Crunch.
Story by Jonash Dannug
Photos by Nicks Hernandez