AJ MANDANI scored with 3.4 seconds left to lift Tanduay Light to a 78-77 win over MJM M-Builders on Monday in its debut in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena.
The ex-pro guard hit the game-winner in an inbound play off a pass by Gab Banal to put Tanduay ahead, then Gelo Alolino and Pau Javelona missed on MJM’s next attempts as the Rhum Masters took the win.
“It was a great team effort. Everyone played their hearts out to get the win. I got a great look at the basket, just like what coach (Lawrence Chongson) drew up,” said Mandani.
The M-Builders, built around the core of the Far Eastern University Tamaraws, are winless in two games.
Mac Belo suited up for MJM M-Builders despite a threat by Tanduay Light of a court action against him for breach of contract. The Rhum Masters are claiming that the FEU forward still has a live contract with the team.
Belo finished with 13 points including a bucket that tied the game at 70-70. National University teammate Glenn Khobuntin also hit a layup with 21.8 seconds to play for a 77-76 lead before Mandani’s game-winner.
Roi Sumang led the Rhum Masters with 16 points while Leo de Vera added 15.
Khobuntin and Alolino had 18 and 16 points respectively for the M-Builders.
Tanduay Light (78) – Sumang 16, De Vera 15, Belencion 10, Banal 7, Mandani 6, Rono 6, Tagarda 5, Ignacio 4, Jumao-as 3, Santos 2, Ilagan 2, Foronda 2, Abrigo 0, De Leon 0.
MJM M-Builders (77) – Khobuntin 18, Alolino 16, Belo 13, Tolomia 8, Pogoy 7, Javelona 5, Perez 4, Cruz 4, Jose 2, Alberto 0, Mendoza 0, Inigo 0, Neypes 0.
Quarterscores: 16-17; 39-37; 65-56; 78-77.