MANILA – Davao Occidental moved to within a win from winning the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League title after holding off San Juan, 66-58, in Game 3 of the finals at the Subic Bay Gymnasium on Saturday.
A second quarter surge turned out to be enough for the Tigers as they took a pivotal 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
After yet another tight first quarter, Davao Occidental surged ahead in the second, outscoring San Juan, 26-13, to open a 41-27 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Tigers weathered two crucial rallies from the Knights to eventually seal the victory.
Billy Robles led Davao Occidental, which can clinch the series in Game 4 on Sunday, with 13 points, 10 in the first half, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, and four blocks.
Ken Mocon added 11 points, three rebounds, and one steal off the bench.
Holding their opponents to the lowest scoring output so far in the entirety of the championship series, Coach Don Dulay hopes that his Davao Occidental side can sustain their defensive brilliance as they go for the clincher.
“Our defense came through. We gave only 58 points and if we can play defense like this, we have a big chance,” said Dulay.
Mike Ayonayon paced San Juan, which now needs to win Game 4 to send the series to a rubber match on Monday, with 16 points, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal off the bench.
DAVAO OCCIDENTAL 66 – Robles 13, Mocon 11, Custodio 10, Yee 7, Gaco 7, Ludovice 6, Calo 6, Terso 3, Saldua 2, Balagtas 1
SAN JUAN 58 – Ayonayon 16, Wilson 12, Wamar 8, Rodriguez 6, Clarito 5, Isit 5, Reyes 4, Pelayo 2, Tajonera 0, Estrella 0, Gabawan 0, Marquez 0
Quarterscores: 15-14, 41-27, 52-42, 66-58 (PNA)