The top-seeded Davao Occidental Cocolife Tigers capped a brilliant endgame to subdue stubborn Cebu Sharks, 76-69, and clinch the first semifinal ticket via a playoff sweep in the South Division of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup at Lagao Gym in General Santos City over the weekend.
The Sharks, eight placers in the elimination round, took control of the game, powered by their surprise second unit and still led entering the final quarter, 60-51.
But former Philippine Basketball Association veterans Leo Najorda, Mark Yee and Bonbon Custodio flexed their muscles and put up a decisive run inside the paint and beyond the arc to snatch the victory for the Tigers’ team, owned by Claudine Bautista of Davao Occidental LGU, backed by Cocolife President Elmo Nobleza, FVP Joseph Ronquillo and AVP Rowena Asnan.
The Sharks, who could not sustain their firepower in the stretch after a big start, collapsed.
They also lost game one of their quarterfinals’ encounter, 82-67, at the RMC Gym, in Davao City.
“We stayed focused and determined to win. It’s different in the playoffs. No top seed, no 8th placer. We are very happy to move on to the next round,” said Yee, who was named Best Player of the Game for the 11th time since the elimination round.
The Davao Cocolife Tigers will face the Bacoor Strikers, who also swept General Santos City right at the Warriors’ own turf for the south division final four in the league organized by Senator Manny Pacquiao.