MANILA, Philippines -- Mark Yee was the hero for Davao Occidental in Game 4 of the MPBL Lakan Cup finals on Sunday, making the big plays down the stretch against San Juan-Go for Gold.
The 39-year-old veteran gave Davao Occidental the lead for good, 89-88, when he buried a three-pointer from the left wing over the outstretched arms of San Juan's Jeff Tajonera with just 13.4 seconds left.
In the final possession of the game, the reigning Chooks-to-Go MPBL Defensive Player of the Year showed why he deserved the accolade, as he swatted away the layup attempt by San Juan's Jhonard Clarito.
The ball bounced off the San Juan guard's knee, allowing the Tigers to run out the clock and secure the national championship in overtime.
"Nagbunga lahat ng paghihirap ko, kumbaga ito 'yung reward na ibinigay sa akin ng Panginoon," said Yee, who finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and three blocks in the clincher.
He emerged as the Finals MVP of the series after averaging 13.5 points, 10.25 rebounds, 2.75 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 blocks in four games against San Juan.
It was sweet revenge for Davao Occidental against the Knights, as they had lost to San Juan last season in heartbreaking fashion. San Juan seized an 87-86 win over the Tigers in Game 5 of the Datu Cup finals, at Davao Occidental's home court.
But Yee stressed that their victory in the Lakan Cup was not about payback.
"Hindi naman siguro bawi," he insisted. "Sa amin naging gutom lang kami saka naging humble kami lagi kasi nga hindi naman talaga namin intensyon kung sino ang makalaban namin."
"Focus lang kami basta ang goal namin na kunin itong championship na ito," he stressed.
Yee also gave full credit to his teammates and coaches upon receiving the Finals MVP award.
"Lagi kong sinasabi na itong championship at Finals MVP, biyaya ito galing sa Panginoon saka siguro 'yung sakripisyo ko rin sa team na ito kaya binabalik ko rin 'yung papuri sa Kanya," he said.
But for Davao Occidental coach Don Dulay, it was high time that Yee was rewarded for all that he did for the franchise.
"He deserves all the praise. If you've been with us since day one, he's been a leader. He's always to be the first in practice, he works so hard. He shows everybody what it takes to be on that level," said Dulay. "He deserves it. All that hard work finally paid off."
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