MAHINDRA bolstered its reputation as a giant killer as it toppled previously unbeaten TNT Katropa, 107-104, on Friday to clinch its first-ever postseason appearance in its young history in the PBA.
The Enforcer took the Texters’ best punches and still stood defiant to deal their victims their first loss in seven games in the Governors’ Cup clash at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
James White energized the Enforcer anew with 24 points, including a slam off an alley-oop feed from LA Revilla that punctuated his team’s late surge as they won for the sixth time in eight games to gain solo second spot.
The young, yet unflappable Mahindra import completed an all-around showing with 10 boards, three blocks, three assists, and two steals in 40 minutes, while getting significant local contributions from Paolo Taha, Nino Canaleta, and Revilla.
“Our guys were really dialed in and we had nothing less than a championship effort,” Enforcer coach Chris Gavina said. “Our selfless style of basketball really kicked in.”
Despite the loss, the Texters kept their hold on the top spot with a half-game lead over Mahindra as they likewise booked a ticket to the quarterfinals.
The Enforcer, who surpassed their best win total in a conference, led most of the second half, but saw the Texters pull to within three points, 90-87, before Canaleta and Revilla knocked down a triple each to spark the surge. White capped it with a flush off a Revilla feed that made it 101-92 with a little over two minutes left.
Jayson Castro carried the Texters’ fightback with 16 of his 33 points in the final frame, but his team still fell short of keeping their undefeated record intact.
MAHINDRA 107 – White 24, Taha 15, Canaleta 13, Revilla 12, Digregorio 11, Guinto 9, Bagatsing 8, Agovida 4, Jaime 4, Ramos 4, Yee 3, Ballesteros 0, Elorde 0
TNT 104 – Castro 33, Ammons 20, Fonacier 13, Rosario 11, De Ocampo 9, Rosales 5, Williams 4, Reyes 3, Tautuaa 3, Madanly 2, Carey 1, Rosser 0
Quarterscores: 19-23, 51-44, 78-72, 107-104