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DavOcc, Makati score huge wins; Nueva Ecija stuns Bulacan

MANILA — The Davao Occidental Tigers returned to its winning ways in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Season with a huge 78-70 win over the Parañaque Patriots at the San Andres Sports Complex on Wednesday night.

Four nights after getting devastated by the San Juan Knights in their finals rematch, the Tigers were actually on track to get beaten again, this time by the also-ran Patriots, who led by six, 27-21, in the second quarter.

But afterward, the Tigers responded with a 16-1 run to take the lead for good.

The team even held a 13-point cushion, 76-63, with 3:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots had one final push, going on a 7-0 run to cut the gap to six, 76-70, with 45 seconds left.

The Tigers eventually escaped after Bogs Raymundo scored the dagger basket in the next play.

"Parañaque played tough. This is another learning experience for us. It is good playing against those hungry and young teams," Tigers coach Don Dulay said.

Mark Yee made 17 points, 17 rebounds, and six assists for the Tigers, who strengthened their hold of the top spot in the Southern Division after moving up to 22-4, a half-game clear of the Bacoor City Strikers.

In the second game, Nueva Ecija stunned Bulacan, 85-78.

The Rice Vanguards outscored the Kuyas, 29-17, in the final quarter to pull off the comeback.

"We just slowly chipped away even though Bulacan was in control most of the game," said Carlo Tan, who was tasked as the interim coach for the game because head coach Charles Tiu and lead assistant TY Tang were in Dubai to lead Mighty Sports in the Dubai International Basketball Championship.

Zags Gonzaga and Jai Reyes each put up 20 points with the latter dropping a double-double with 15 assists for also-ran Nueva Ecija, which moved up to 9-18.

Justin Araña also put up a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Jovit dela Cruz came up with 14 markers, six boards, one dime, and one steal for Bulacan, whose bid to get a better playoff seed suffered a crucial hit as it fell to 18-9, just a half-game ahead of Pampanga, for the fourth spot in the South.

In the main game, Makati Skyscrapers scored its first win under new coach Beaujing Acot in style, drubbing the Caloocan Supremos by 42 points, 119-77.

The Skyscrapers quickly opened a double-digit lead against the Supremos and never looked back.

"We are still in the adjustment phase pero sobrang happy ako kasi in-accept ng players 'yung challenge (I'm glad the players accepted the challenge). The win should be really credited to the players because they played very well," Acot said.

Josh Torralba led Makati, which moved up to 21-6, with 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting, three rebounds, and two steals.

Paul Sanga dropped 17 points and six rebounds for Caloocan, which fell to ninth place in the North at 14-13, catapulting Pasay to the eighth spot. (PNA)

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