|Billy Robles helped just in time to block Mike Ayonayon's heroics. MPBL|
MANILA--If there is one person who is the least surprised at what Billy Robles can do defensively in the endgame, it is Davao Occidental coach Don Dulay.
"We look at him to make big plays defensively... I'm not surprised. He always comes big for us," Dulay said after their team downed San Juan in Game 1 of the MPBL Finals on Wednesday night at the Subic Bay Gymnasium.
[Related Story: Davao Occidental survives wild endgame to take MPBL Finals opener]
The concurrent Rain Or Shine assistant coach added, "His IQ defensively is one of the best. I was able to coach him in the PBA and that's one thing I like about him. Not only that he plays hard, he knows his match-up. That's huge playing against an [Mike] Ayonayon, John Wilson, you need to have high IQ to play at this level."
The fact that they have been teaming up since 2017 when Robles was still with the Elasto Painters further established why Dulay already anticipated Robles to come up huge defensively.
Robles soared to swat what would have been Ayonayon's game winning layup in the dying moments of the best-of-five series opener.
"Noong last play kasi nila, alam kong magbo-ball screen si Kuya Larry [Rodriguez] tapos mabi-beat si Kuya Mark [Yee] kaya nag-help na talaga ako," Robles recalled the clutch moment. "Sabi ko ibuhos ko na ang lahat dito kasi last play na eh, kaya yun nagbunga naman."
The block was the second of three defensive gems the Tigers needed in the end to turn back the Knights.
Yee first picked a wild Wilson pass off a triple team leading to his go ahead free throws.
Eman Calo then deflected Orlan Wamar's outlet pass intended for Ayonayon, which eventually sealed the outcome.
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