BOCAUE, Bulacan - Mahindra picked up its first win of the season by outlasting Blackwater, 97-93, in overtime on Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Philippine Arena.
Leaning on the late-game heroics of Alex Mallari, the Floodbuster finally ended a 0-5 start to the conference and remained perfect in the giant arena owned by the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
Mallari, who matched his career-high with 23 points, scored back-to-back baskets in the final minute to give Mahindra a 90-85 edge before Ryan Araña sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 1.8 ticks left.
Arana finished with 19 points.
"I really give credit for my players. I just told them to keep believing, and they kept believing," said Mahindra coach Chris Gavina.
The Floodbuster refused to fold even when they were facing a 15-point deficit in the fourth period, 64-79. A 17-2 outburst behind Mallari's eight points tied the game at 81-all, with 1:41 left in the regulation.
Nico Elorde and Nico Salva botched successive chances to close out the contest late in regulation, but Mahindra kept up the pressure on Blackwater in the extra period.
Arana opened the extra period with a three-pointer and the Floodbuster never looked back, sending Blackwater crashing to its third loss in seven games.
Art dela Cruz paced the Elite with 18 points, while John Pinto and Mac Belo added 15 and 14, respectively.
Mahindra 97 - Mallari 23, Arana 19, Salva 14, Eriobu 9, Revilla 9, Yee 8, Elorde 6, Nimes 4, Digregorio 3, Escoto 2, Ballesteros 0, Celda 0, Deutchman 0, Paniamogan 0, Webb 0.
Blackwater 93 - Dela Cruz 18, Pinto 15, Belo 14, Sumang 12, Sena 10, Pascual 9, Buenafe 6, Aguilar 3, Banal 2, Cervantes 2, Gmalinda 2, Ababou 0, Forrester 0, Melano 0, Miranda 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18, 41-41, 59-66, 97-93