The Davao Occidental Cocolife Tigers made sure a heartbreaking loss in its own turf will never happen Saturday night.
Veterans Mark Yee, Bonbon Custodio and Emman Calo joined hands offensively to seize control of the game in the early goings, clamping their defense on the other end in a low-scoring tussle against the visiting Manila Stars in the Mindanao Invasion of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup recently in RMC Petro Gazz in Davao City.
The Stars from the Big City staged an uprising in the third quarter and even grabbed the lead at 68-62 with Chris Bitoon leading the charge, but Custodio poured all of his 10 points in the stretch, while Billy Ray Robles capped the run with his dagger trey in dying seconds as the Tigers pulled off a 79-76 triumph.
The home team is owned by Dumper Party List Rep. Claudine Bautista of Davao Occidental and backed by Cocolife President Atty. Jose Martin Loon, FVP Joseph Ronquillo, AVP Rowena Asnan and SVP Franz Joie Arague.
King Tiger Yee had a quiet 9 points, but provided a steady leadership all game-long.
Homegrown Calo equalled Robles output with 16 points, while Ivan Ludovice added 10 to power the Tigers to an 18-3 record, the best in the south division.
Manila hurt its chances with the ejection of assistant coach Angel Vanguardia and players Gabby Espinas and Mark Tallo for unsportsmanlike behavior. It slid to 17-4 in the north division.
“Not in our own turf this time. Ayaw naming biguin ang aming kababayan kaya buhos lang hanggang dulo,” said game’s Best Player Robles, who recalled their heartbreaking upset loss to the visiting Valenzuela last month.
Tigers’ managers Dinko Bautista and Ray Alao lauded their players’ effort for the homecourt victory and advised them to focus on their next road game in the league organized by Senator Manny Pacquiao.