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Davao Occidental takes MPBL South as 4 more Basilan players test positive for COVID-19

The Tigers are heading back to the MPBL Finals without breaking a sweat. MPBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—It's Davao Occidental versus San Juan again in the MPBL Finals.

The Tigers once again clinched the South Division title but for an anti-climactic reason.

Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes announced on Tuesday that some more Basilan Steel players have been tested positive for COVID-19.

"Update is four ang positive," said Duremdes.

The league gave a condition that for Basilan to play Davao Occidental in the supposed MPBL South Finals decider, everyone must be tested negative in their re-test on Monday.

[Related Story: Basilan facing forfeiture of MPBL South finals after suspected COVID-19 cases]

But with Duremdes' confirmation, the match has been declared forfeited in favor of the Tigers, who have an extra week of rest.

This put a bitter end to what has been a promising season for the Steel.

Banking on a solid lineup led by Gilas Cadet Allyn Bulanadi and former PBA star Jonathan Uyloan, Basilan made a full season turnaround from a moribund MPBL debut in the 2018-19 season to title contender status for 2019-21.

Despite finishing the regular season in third place in the South standings, the team stunned second seed Bacoor City in the division semis to set up a showdown with Davao Occidental for one of the two national finals spots.

The Steel stunned the Tigers in Game 1 in Tagum and came close to complete the South Finals upset in Game 2 in Lamitan.

But Davao Occidental recovered in the end to force the decider supposedly in Davao City only that the pandemic postponed the MPBL season and eventually forced the Subic bubble one year later.

Davao Occidental and San Juan will rekindle their rivalry at the start of the best-of-five national finals at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Subic Bay Gymnasium.

The games will be played daily except for a day-off on Friday.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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