MAHINDRA frustrated NLEX, 106-96, on Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome, giving the squad something to cheer about despite being already out of playoff contention in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Facing a fellow eliminated squad in NLEX, the Floodbuster erased an early deficit before putting on a strong finishing kick to put away their third win over their last five games.
Alex Mallari sustained his fine, all-around play as he flirted with a triple-double with 30 points, 10 boards, nine assists, on top of three steals in 37 minutes to lead the Floodbuster, who improved to a 3-7 win-loss card overall while leaving the Road Warriors alone at the bottom at 2-8.
“We want to end the conference on a high note,” Floodbuster coach Chris Gavina, who celebrated his 38th birthday on gameday, said.
“We dedicate this game to Russel. We’re praying he’s injury is not severe,” he added of Escoto, who hurt his left knee late in the first half.
Mallari made sure they hardly missed Escoto as the former poured in significant numbers across the board again, before leading the Floodubuster’s late surge by scoring 11 in the fourth quarter.
Reden Celda also came through for Mahindra as the rookie playmaker put up the best scoring game of his young career with 18 points, scoring half in the payoff period where his team outscored NLEX, 29-19.
Escoto still wound up as the team’s third-leading scorer with 12 points in 12 minutes.
Eric Camson fired a team-high 17 points and six boards as he stepped up in the absence of injured Sean Anthony, but Bradwyn Guinto and Mac Baracael were the only other players who scored in twin digits for the Road Warriors, who led by five at the end of the first quarter.
MAHINDRA 106 – Mallari 30, Celda 18, Escoto 12, Galanza 11, Apinan 10, Revilla 9, Deutchman 6, Ballesteros 5, Paniamogan 3, Eriobu 2, Yee 0, Elorde 0, Teng 0, Salva 0
NLEX 96 – Camson 17, Guinto 13, Baracael 10, Khobuntin 9, Lastimosa 9, Alas 8, Rios 6, J. Villanueva 6, Monfort 5, Lanete 4, Taulava 4, Soyud 2, Gotladera 2, E. Villanueva 1
Quarterscores: 22-27, 57-49, 77-77, 106-96