By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE Davao Occidental-Cocolife Tigers were crowned Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan champions on Sunday after closing out the San Juan Go-for-Gold Knights in Game Four of their best-of-five finals in overtime, 89-88.

Veteran Mark Yee provided the go-ahead three-pointer with 13.4 seconds to go to tow his team to the win that earned them the title for the Lakan Season, which was delayed by a year by the coronavirus pandemic.

Down by two points, 88-86, after San Juan’s Larry Rodriguez drained a putback with 1:07 left in the extra period, Davao Occidental stayed resilient and be in the mix.

The Tigers got an opening with time running out as Mr. Yee got the ball at the left-wing and buried the three points that pushed them on top.

San Juan still had a chance to reclaim the lead but Jhonard Clarito’s drive to the basket was foiled by Mr. Yee. To make matters worse, the ball went out off the leg of Mr. Clarito to send the possession to Davao Occidental.

The Knights could not recover from it as the Tigers went on to close out the contest and the series, 3-1.

Emman Calo led the way for Davao Occidental, finishing with 22 points.

Game hero Yee had 19 points on top of 12 rebounds, three assists and three blocks. He was named finals most valuable player.

Joseph Terso and Billy Robles, meanwhile, added 11 points apiece for the champions.

For San Juan it was Mr. Rodriguez who showed the way with 19 points, with Mr. Clarito adding 18.  

CJ Isit had 14 and John Wilson 13 points.

San Juan’s Wilson was named the Lakan Cup most valuable player. 

The former Jose Rizal University bomber led the league in scoring with 20.23 points to go along with 6.33 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.33 steals in the regular season.

He was honored with the award prior to the start of Game Four of the finals.

Joining Mr. Wilson in the All-MPBL First Team were teammate Mike Ayonayon, Pasig Sta. Lucia’s Jeric Teng, Davao Occidental’s Yee, and Makati-Super Crunch’s Jeckster Apinan.

The All-MPBL Second Team, meanwhile, was composed of Datu Cup MVP Gab Banal (Bacoor City Strikers), Manila-Frontrow’s tandem of Chris Bitoon and Aris Dionisio, GenSan-Burlington’s Pamboy Raymundo and Pasay’s Dhon Reverente.

Chooks-to-Go, MPBL do share

Meanwhile, Chooks-to-Go and the league joined together to assist members of the Basilan Steel team for the remainder of their stay in the Subic Bay Peninsular Hotel.

Recognizing how the expense of the team was mounting, particularly the cost of the delegation’s RT-PCR tests, Chooks-to-Go President Ronald Mascariñas and MPBL founder Manny Pacquiao joined hands in helping their member team out.

Unfortunately for Basilan it was not able to take the floor in the MPBL bubble after its players tested positive for the coronavirus.

Basilan’s contingent arrived in Subic last March 8 but had to stay in the quarantine hotel before it could enter the main bubble itself. However, two Steel players tested positive for the coronavirus.

After the two players were sent back to their respective provinces, the league and Basilan came to terms that another test would be given to them on March 15. If one member tests positive, they have to forfeit their win-or-go-home game against Davao Occidental as the team still had contact with each other inside Peninsular.

Unfortunately, four more members of the Basilan delegation tested positive.

Basilan was able to leave the quarantine hotel last Saturday.