DAVAO Occidental was eight minutes away from seeing its season come to an end until Billy Robles and Eman Calo combined forces and conspired down the stretch to lead the Tigers to a 77-66 triumph over San Juan in Game 4 of the best-of-five championship series and deny the Knights a grand celebration at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Robles knocked in 12 of his career-high 22 points that catapulted the Cocolife-backed Tigers in serious hunt for the national championship.
Following the latest win, Davao Occidental has put itself in a good position to win as it sends the series back at the Rizal Memorial College in Davao City for the winner-take-all Game 5.
“It might help a little, but it’s not gonna win us the game,” said Davao Occidental coach Don Dulay. “We still need to go out and play. It’s nice, we’ll be playing in front of our home crowd, but we still need to play. I’m just happy the series was extended.”
The six-foot guard Mr. Calo, who was grounded in two of the losses the Tigers suffered was like a Tour de Force as he grabbed a personal best 18 rebounds.
Mr. Calo also stepped up big when needed. He had nine of his 10 points in the fourth period, meanwhile Leo Najorda also came through with clutch baskets, hitting two treys that touched off a big finish by the Tigers.
But more than the timely contributions of these tamed Tigers who have become more ferocious in Game 4, it was their defense that helped the team in levelling the series to 2-2.
The Tigers held the Knights without a field goal in a four-minute stretch in the fourth period then unleashed a telling 20-5 run capped by Robles’ lay up in the 2:21 mark and gave Davao Occidental a 68-61 lead.
Mark Yee also played a solid game, ending up a rebound away from another double-double of 14 points and nine boards.
Davao Occidental, which shot only 33% from the field, held the usually explosive San Juan squad to a 35% shooting (24-of-67). The Tigers were also more active on the rebounding department, grabbing 50 caroms, seven more than their rivals.
The Tigers’ rebounding allowed them to produce 17 second chance points, eight more than the Knights, who were also forced to 17 turnovers by Davao Occidental’s pesky defense, resulting to 22 turnover points. — Rey Joble