BACOOR — Davao Occidental-Cocolife firmed up its grip of the top spot in the South after nipping Nueva Ecija, 86-79, in the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Season, Monday at the Strike Gym here.
With the win, the Tigers rose to 24-4, a game ahead of second-seeded Bacoor at 23-5.
Mark Yee led the Tigers anew with a 16-point, 11-rebound effort. Meanwhile, fellow ex-pro Bonbon Custodio posted 16 markers as well.
Robles’ charity stripe conversion brought Davao’s margin to its highest at 12, 73-61. Nueva Ecija then countered with 9-3 sprint to cut the deficit to just three, 73-76.
But Yee and Joseph Terso had other things in mind, conniving with a triple and a layup on the fastbreak to give the Tigers the lead for good, 81-73.
“Nueva Ecija is not the same team in the beginning. This was a big game, we prepared well for this. I told my guys that they might have a bad record but they have that fight in them,” said Davao coach Don Dulay.
Terso was a sparkplug off the bench with 14 points built on four treys, while Billy Ray Robles had a double-double of his own with 12 markers and 10 boards.
On the other hand, Tonino Gonzaga unloaded 23 points, and Maclean Sabellina got 14 markers and 11 rebounds.
The Rice Vanguards fell to 10-19.
Davao Occidental-Cocolife 86 – Yee 16, Custodio 16, Terso 14, Robles 12, Mocon 8, Saldua 7, Calo 7, Raymundo 4, Gaco 2, Balagtas 0, Ludovice 0.
Nueva Ecija 79 – Gonzaga 23, Sabellina 14, Sarao 10, Arana 10, Reyes J. 7, Martinez 6, Dela Cruz 4, Monte 3, Reyes G. 2, Belasco 0, Celada 0.
Quarterscores: 19-16, 44-39, 62-55, 86-79.
Story by Justin Valencia
Photo by Thel Suliva