Mahindra stumps Alaska, remains unbeaten in four games. The Mahindra Enforcer continued their surprising run in the Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup as they stumped the Alaska Aces, 101-95, for a fourth straight win on Wednesday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Despite trailing by as many as 16 points in the game, Mahindra closed Alaska out with a 13-2 run to claim another victim and keep pace with the TNT Ka-Tropa (4-0) for the conference lead.
Import James White dominated on offense with 32 points on 13-for-15 shooting from the field. He also grabbed 15 rebounds and dished out two assists, including a crucial one to rookie Keith Agovida in the final minute.
Aldrech Ramos added 14 points, KG Canaleta chipped in with 13 markers while Agovida scored 11 to help the cause.
Alaska grabbed a double-digit lead, 28-18, in the first quarter after rattling off eight unanswered points, including back-to-back threes from Calvin Abueva and Chris Banchero.
They led by eight points after the first quarter and took that even further in the second period, where they led by as many as 16 points before settling for a 54-39 lead at the half.
Alaska import LaDontae Henson paced all scorers with 18 points in the first half but Abueva also had a memorable performance over the first two periods, where he went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, including two three-pointers, and 3-for-3 from the free throw line to tally 15 points in just over nine minutes of play.
Mahindra was led by their import, White, who scored 14.
Canaleta started to get going in the third, hitting a pair of three-pointers, throwing down a dunk and assisting to White. But he miscalculated when swatting at the ball in a fastbreaking Abueva’s hand. He was tabbed with an unsportsmanlike foul and had to sit out.
But even with Canaleta out, the Enforcer mounted a comeback. Ramos scored off a three-point play, Asian import Iman Zandi hit a triple and Agovida struck as they came as close as seven points, 72-65, late in the third.
Mahindra carried that momentum into the fourth quarter, which they opened on a 12-5 run.
Agovida made a nice play where he swatted JVee Casio in the perimeter and took it all the way for a transition basket and Ramos and White each had an and-one finish as they came to within two points, 79-77.
Despite the Enforcer’s best efforts, though, they could not seem to get over the hump as Alaska, usually thanks to Henton, had an answer for everything Mahindra would throw at them.
Henton carried most of the scoring load for the Aces, although he did get some support from Abueva, Dondon Hontiveros and RJ Jazul as they entered the last three minutes with a five-point lead, 93-88.
But White changed all that by scoring five straight points. He struck first on a pull-up jumper at the baseline before floating in another shot while absorbing contact to earn an extra free throw that tied the game at 95-all.
Alaska’s Sonny Thoss got a midrange jumper to fall, putting the Aces ahead, 95-93, but Agovida quickly followed with a drive to the rim and Mike DiGregorio sank a huge jumper to give the Enforcer a 97-95 advantage with a little over a minute left.
After a huge defensive stop, White found Agovida cutting along the baseline for a basket inside, 99-95. Alaska then came up empty on another possession and White capped it with a huge two-handed dunk in transition, 101-95.
The first quarter also saw a brief cameo from Filipino boxing icon, Mahindra player-coach and now Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao, who played two minutes and 59 seconds and missed one shot attempt.
MAHINDRA 101 – White 32, Ramos 14, Canaleta 13, Agovida 11, Zandi 9, Digregorio 7, Taha 5, Elorde 4, Bagatsing 3, Aguilar 2, Yee 1, Ballesteros 0, Guinto 0, Pacquiao 0, Pinto 0, Jaime 0.
ALASKA 95 – Henton 33, Abueva 21, Banchero 8, Exciminiano 8, Jazul 6, Thoss 6, Dela Cruz 4, Menk 3, Casio 2, Dela Rosa 2, Hontiveros 2, Baclao 0, Magat 0, Manuel 0, Racal 0.
Quarters: 23-31, 39-54, 65-74, 101-95