Playmaker Rob Celis played the hero’s role for Davao Occidental COCOLIFE against arch rival San Juan as he led the Tigers to a double-overtime victory, 120-115, in the elimination round of the FilBasket Championship Monday night at the Subic Bay Gymnasium, SBMA in Olongapo City.
A silent operator in the early going, Celis roared in the second half to prevent the Knights’ attempt to break away, highlighted by Orlan Wamar’s three-point bombs with under three minutes left in the regulation period as San Juan grabbed an 87-78 advantage.
COCOLIFE gunner John Wilson exploded in the third quarter, but fouled out in the crunchtime.
However, Celis, Alwin Alday, Marco Balagtas and Joseph Terso levelled the score at 88-88, with 11 seconds left in regulation.
A quick two by Wamar was erased by the slashing Celis to the hoop to force the first overtime, 90-all.
Ato Ular and Wamar gave San Juan the early advantage at the foul line, 95-90, but Celis gallantly fought back along with Alday and Gab Dagungon’s triple, sending the game to a second overtime, a first in the FilBasket.
Terso Dagangon, Alday and Celis then joined forces to stop the last stand by Knights’ Adrian Nocum and JM Calma and help hammer another come-from-behind victory by the Mindanaoans.
The Tigers of team owners Davao Occidental Gov. Claude Bautista, Rep. Claudine Bautista-Lim, manager Dinko Bautista and supported by COCOLIFE president Atty. Jose Martin Loon, SVP Joseph Ronquillo, VP Rowena Asnan and EVP Franz Joie Araque, grabbed a tie for the top spot in the standings at 6-1, while the Knights fell to a 2-4 slate.
“Kung sino ang may pinakamalaking puso ang nagwagi sa mahirap na panalong ito. Salamat sa tiwala nina coach Matt (Macalintal), boss Rey (Alao) at Bhong Baribar,” said Celis, the FilBasket Player of the Game, who posted a near triple-double of 26 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists.