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Saldua’s putback, Robles’ swat pave way for Davao Occidental’s escape of Zamboanga

In a battle between two Southern powerhouses in the MPBL, the kings of the division Davao Occidental Tigers needed to dig deep to survive Zamboanga-Family’s Brand Sardines, 84-82, Wednesday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

“They gave us a good fight. I expected that. Looks like we have a lot to work on. We need more time to jell,” said Davao Occidental head coach Don Dulay.

With the game knotted at 82-all with 23 seconds left, Chester Saldua was at the right place and at the right time, cleaning up Mark Yee’s miss for the go-ahead bucket.

Saldua, who previously played for Saint Benilde, Letran, and Perpetual, had 15 points and seven rebounds.

“I just try to fit guys into our system. [Marco] Balagtas, Saldua, they are fighters,” said Dulay about his new pieces. “They understand what I want, it’s just them understanding each other at this point.”

Off a timeout, former NU Bulldog Med Salim had a clean look. But little did he know that Billy Robles was lurking around as he swatted away his shot.

Robles, a Datu Cup Mythical Team member, tallied 14 points and seven rebounds.

Though Zamboanga was able to regain possession, Raffy Reyes’ two attempts from deep was not able to find the hole.

It was a nip and tuck affair all game long that saw 11 lead changes and nine ties.

Harold Arboleda paced Zamboanga with 24 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Leo De Vera, a former Bacoor Striker, added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

The Scores:

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Davao Occidental 84 — Saldua 15, Robles 14, Balagtas 12, Ludovice 11, Calo 8, Albo 8, Terso 7, Custodio 4, Raymundo 3, Yee 2, Forrester 0, Mocon 0.

Zamboanga 82 — Arboleda 24, De Vera 15, Salim 12, Reyes 11, Juntilla 10, Nalos 6, Cudal 2, Costelo 2, Santos 0, Rono 0, Jumao-as 0, Ignacio 0.

Quarterscores: 20-17, 32-36, 58-52, 84-82.

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