Subic–Mark Yee threw a prayer of a 3-pointer and got answered as the Davao Occidental Tigers nipped the San Juan Knights, 89-88, in overtime to clinch the Chooks-to-Go MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Lakan Season national crown at the closed-door Subic Bay Gym on Sunday.
With the shot clock winding down, Yee was forced to fire a meter away from the rainbow circle which went in as the Cocolife-backed Tigers cut short the best-of-five series, 3-1, and avenged their MPBL Datu Cup Finals loss to the Knights.
Yee, again proving his role as the Tigers' heart and soul, wound up with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists to earn Finals MVP honors.
It was a gutsy win for the Tigers as they kept their composure after losing a 16-point spread, 37-21, in the second quarter and struggling to force the extension at 80-80.
The Go for Gold-supported Knights fought gallantly without the hurting Mike Ayonayon in the second half, even leading at 88-86 with only 27.2 seconds to go, only to be struck mortally by Yee's triple dagger.
As soon as the final buzzer sounded, the Tigers couldn't help but turn emotional with Joseph Terso, Billy Robles, Eman Calo, and Yee shedding tears.
"We helped each other out," said Yee, who raised his arms and pointed to the heavens as the ball dropped in.
Calo supported Yee with 22 points, Terso and Robles chipped in 11 each while Kenneth Mocon contributed 9.
Rodriguez led San Juan with 19 points and 8 rebounds, followed by Jhonard Clarito with 18 points and 11 rebounds, CJ isist with 14 points and 10 assists, and John Wilson, who was named Lakan Season MVP before the game, made 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
The Tigers of coach Don Dulay also took the series opener, 77-75, in overtime, but the Knights equalized in Game 2, 70-76. They got the pivotal Game 3, 66-58, to gain momentum in the battle for the national championship trophy worth P10 million given by MPBL COO and Founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao and handed out by Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes and SBMA Administrator and CEO Atty. Wilma Eisma.
Expectedly, Dulay was named Coach of the Year over San Juan mentor Randy Alcantara.
"We let it (16-point lead) slipped only to come back. Thank God we came through," said Dulay, who expressed his gratitude to Davao Occidental Gov. Claude Bautista and Cong. Claudine Bautista, the team owners.