MPBL: Mark Yee and Davao Occidental Tigers targeting another Finals run
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 10, 2019 02:32 PM
Mark Yee and the Davao Occidental Tigers are looking to get back into the MPBL National Finals
The Davao Occidental Tigers were easily just a basket away from capturing the 2019 MPBL Datu Cup Championship.
After forcing a fifth game against the San Juan Knights in the National Finals, Davao would end up losing by just a single point in their homecourt in the deciding match.
And while it was a heartbreaking way to close out the season by all accounts, Mark Yee and the Tigers are nothing short of grateful for the experience.
Now, it has made them even hungrier to get back that deep in the post-season.
"Siyempre nagpapa-salamat kami na nakadating kami sa National Finals. Kumbaga yung goal namin, hindi pa tapos. Ita-try ulit namin ngayong season na ‘to," Yee told ABS-CBN Sports. "Mas lalo pang naging gutom kami para makuha yun dahil hindi namin nakuha last season."
Yee and the Tigers are coming into the 2019 MPBL Lakan Cup with the goal of getting back into the season's finale, but will be heading into the Maharalika Pilipinas Basketball League's third season with a slightly different lineup.
The most notable departure from the Davao side is All-MPBL Second Teamer Leo Najorda, who was a key cog in the Tigers' National Finals Run.
There will be eight new faces for the Tigers in the upcoming Lakan Cup, headlined by 6-foot-5 big man Chester Saldua, who previously played for the Muntinlupa Cagers, former UST Growling Tiger Mario Bonleon, and former San Beda standout Yvan Ludovice.
"May mga players na nawala, at mayroon ding players na dumating, kumbaga, ganito talaga, business ‘to eh, may mga mawawala, may mga dadating," explained Yee, who himself finished the Datu Cup with All-MPBL First Team honors.
"Ipagpapatuloy lang namin yung tiwala kay God tapos magtutulungan kaming lahat dahil hindi pu-puwede na iisang tao lang o lilimang tao lang, kumbaga lahat kailangan mag-tulungan," he added.
On who he expects to step up for the Tigers in the Lakan Cup, Yee maintained that their success would depend on a collective effort from the team.
"Siguro lahat naman, kailangan magtulungan, kasi hindi pu-puwedeng on to five players lang. Kailangan kahit sinong gamitin ni Coach, kailangan gawin yung kanya-kanyang role."
The defending Southern Division Champions are indeed setting their sights on another deep post-season run, but Yee shares that they plan on taking the new season a game at a time. The first objective is to ger back into the Playoffs, and work from there.
"Ita-try muna namin na makapasok sa Playoffs, one game at a time lang, kasi halos lahat ng teams ngayon ang lalakas na eh. Ita-try muna namin na makapasok sa Playoffs, tapos pag-dating sa Playoffs, ibang usapan na naman yun."
With another long season and even more teams to go against in the Lakan Cup, Yee emphasized the importance of readiness and conditioning, especially with the unavoidable risk of injuries keeping key players out of the rotation over the course of the season.
"Kailangan lang talaga, lalo na sa offseason, kailangan lang talaga magpa-kundisyon," Yee said. "Kailangan lahat kami handa talaga kami dapat, kasi mahaba-habang season, hindi namin alam kung sino yung mai-injured, sana wala naman, kasi sa mga ganitong daming laro, hindi mo masasabi yung minsan mayroong bibigay ko hindi. At least kung lahat kami handa, kahit sinong bunutin ni coach, makaka-tulong."
The 2019-2020 MPBL Lakan Cup begins on Wednesday, June 12, 4:00 PM at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Catch it LIVE on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!