|Robby Celiz showed heart for the Tigers. PSL|
DIPOLOG—Davao Occidental used a huge third quarter run to overturn a double-digit deficit in the first half but still needed to hold off Roxas in the end for a 63-59 win at the start of the PSL Pearl of the Orient Cup on Friday night at the Dipolog City Sports Center here.
Despite being the stronger side on paper considering their rich basketball history, the Tigers found themselves in early trouble as the Vanguards launched a 7-0 run midway through the first quarter to open a 15-10 lead. The quarter ended with Roxas ahead, 21-16.
The Vanguards then began the second quarter with five straight points to stretch their lead to 10, 26-16, with 7:50 left before halftime.
After both teams put up mini-spurts midway through the second quarter, the Tigers went on an 8-0 rally to cut the Vanguards’ lead down to one, 33-32, with less than a minute to play before halftime.
After an exchange of baskets from Roxas’ Marcy Arellano and Davao Occidental’s Eman Calo, the first half ended with Roxas still up, 35-34.
Robby Celiz then opened the third quarter with four straight points to put the Tigers ahead, 38-35. Later in the period, they made a little break-away and increased their lead to 11, 54-43, with 53.3 seconds remaining in the quarter before settling for a 54-48 advantage entering the fourth.
“Noong opening, sabi ni Commissioner Marc [Pingris], ‘Puso!’ So yun lang ang pinakita ko,” said Celiz, who finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds with two assists, one steal, and three blocks.
Davao Occidental appeared to be holding on for most of the final frame, but Roxas banked on its defense and cut the lead down to four, 63-59, with 21.3 seconds left.
The Vanguards got a chance to trim the lead further after the Tigers’ John Wilson, a known steady free-throw shooter throughout his career, missed two charities with 19.9 seconds left, but Jeric Nacpil missed a quick layup and Paulo Hubalde grabbed the rebound to seal the Tigers’ win.
Calo also had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Gab Dagangon also put up 12 points.
Wowie Escosio made 12 points, nine rebounds, and one steal to lead Roxas.
PHP2M now on the line
Earlier in the day during the opening ceremonies, Pingris and PSL vice president Dinko Bautista made a huge announcement that the stakes have become higher in the PSL Pearl of the Orient Cup.
Bautista and Pingris said that the champion of the inaugural conference will take home PHP2 million in cash, while the runner-up will receive PHP1 million and the third placer will win PHP500,000.
Celebs take down Pingris, execs
In a special exhibition game before the showdown between the Vanguards and the Tigers, the Ripples Celebrity All-Stars survived a late comeback from Pingris and the rest of the Cocolife Executive-LGU Team to win, 84-78.
Toffi Santos, who is known for his stint in Pinoy Big Brother: Double Up, led the celebrity team with 23 points, nine rebounds, and one assist.
“Sobrang kinabahan kami doon. Humabol yung Cocolife at talagang puso ang nagdala. Sabi nga ni Kume, puso, talagang gumamit kami doon sa larong ito. Biggest adjustment is siguro mas nag-focus kami noong una, medyo nilalaro namin nangangapa pa kasi ngayon lang din namin nagkasama-sama ng teammates ko but in the end, nag-jell kami, tiwala kami sa isa’t isa. Mas nag-focus kami sa pasa and find the open man,” Santos said.
Former professional basketball player Thomas Torres also put up 23 points alongside seven rebounds and six assists to backstop Santos for the Ripples side.
Davao Occidental 63-Celiz 16, Dagangon 12, Calo 12, Palencia 8, Wilson 4, Rodriguez 4, Balagtas 4, Grimaldo 2, Lalata 1, Custodio 0, Santos 0, Anib 0
Roxas 59-Escosio 12, Dela Cruz 10, Mabigat 8, Valin 6, De Guzman 5, Bonleon 4, Arellano 4, Segura 4, Serrano 2, Delfinado 2, Templo 0, Nacpil 0, Vesagas 0
Quarterscores: 16-21, 34-35, 54-48, 63-59