MANILA, Philippines -- A superb block by Davao Occidental guard Billy Ray Robles secured Davao Occidental-Cocolife's hard-earned 77-75 overtime win over defending champion San Juan-Go for Gold in Game 1 of the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan national finals, Wednesday night.
For Davao Occidental head coach Don Dulay, it was no surprise to see Robles -- nicknamed the "Ilonggo Superman" -- fly in for the defensive stop that clinched their victory.
"We look at him to make big plays defensively... I'm not surprised. He always comes big for us," said the Davao tactician.
Robles, known as one of the most athletic players in the league, rejected a potential go-ahead shot by San Juan star Mike Ayonayon late in the game, when Davao Occidental was clinging to a 76-75 lead.
Ayonayon drove to the basket with just under 20 seconds left but was met at the rim by Robles. The Tigers secured the ball after his block, and Mark Yee's free throw iced the victory.
"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," said the 6-foot Robles, who finished with nine points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.
"Sabi ko ibuhos ko na ang lahat dito kasi last play na eh, kaya 'yun nagbunga naman."
Dulay, who has been working with Robles since 2017 in the Rain or Shine franchise, fully expects the player to keep making an impact on the defensive end of the floor.
"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," said Dulay.
"Not only that he plays hard, he knows his match-up. That's huge playing against an Ayonayon, John Wilson," he added. "You need to have a high IQ to play at this level."
Game 2 of the best-of-five finals series is set for Thursday afternoon, still at Subic where the league is completing its season in a bubble.
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