Tigers moving on as MPBL unwraps
The pain of losing the MPBL title by the slimmest of margins last month still lingers, but the Davao Occidental Tigers wouldn’t have it any other way.
As they open their MPBL Lakan Cup campaign on Wednesday against Zamboanga at Mall of Asia Arena, the Tigers are using that heartbreaking ending as motivation to go one better in the league’s third season.
“We’re more motivated this season, especially after the way we lost that final game” said guard Eman Calo, who missed a potential championship-winning shot in the dying seconds in the 86-85 defeat to the visiting San Juan Knights in Game 5.
“We have to make sure that it doesn’t happen to us again. It was really difficult to recover from that loss, but we’re ready to bounce back.”
The Tigers’ depth was a concern against the Knights, but they’ve addressed the issue by signing point guard Yvan Loduvice from Bataan, Marco Balagtas from Rizal, Chester Saldua from Muntinlupa and ex-PBA player James Forrester.
The duel with Zamboanga at 8 p.m. will be an early test for the Tigers as the Family’s Brand Sardines-backed team actually finished strong last season following a mid-season lineup overhaul that saw them acquire Harold Arboleda and Robin Rono from Parañaque. The duo played key roles in their run to the South division semis.
Expansion team Bicol faces a retooled Basilan squad in the first game at 6 p.m. with the Volcanoes parading a lineup led by ex-PBA hotshots Ronjay Buenafe and Alex Nuyles.
The Volcanoes will have their hands full against the Steel, who only kept five players from last season’s squad. Jay Collado and Hesed Gabo join Basilan from Quezon City.
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