MAHINDRA came through in the clutch as it added to the misery of Meralco with an 86-83 decision on Saturday in the Smart-Bro PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Enforcers tightened the defensive screws in the endgame to emerge on the winning end of a tight battle to deal the cellar-dwelling Bolts their seventh loss in eight games.
“We lived and died with our defense today,” Enforcers coach Chito Victolero said. “We prepared very hard and I told my players it’s about mental toughness…and I’m happy the boys responded to the challenge.”
LA Revilla typified the stingy defense down the stretch with the game-preserving block over Jimmy Alapag in the Bolts’ last offensive play where they could’ve sent the game into overtime.
Karl Dehesa also submitted a stellar job shadowing Bolts star Gary David, who had a game-high 18 points, but was limited to just nine attempts.
The Enforcers held the Bolts to just 41-percent (29-of-71) shooting and forced them to 18 turnovers.
Aldrech Ramos shone on offense with 15 points and nine boards in 32 minutes, while Mark Yee remained consistent with 14, including half in the payoff period that negated a turnover in the endgame, and eight rebounds.
The result also spoiled the impressive showing of Cliff Hodge, who registered a career-high 20 rebounds and 14 points in 42 minutes.
The Bolts still led, 76-72, after a David free throw, before the Enforcers retaliated with a 10 unanswered points that gave them enough cushion to negate Meralco’s late threat.
MAHINDRA 86 – Ramos 15, Yee 14, Pascual K. 12, Revilla 12, Pinto 10, Canaleta 8, Guinto 5, Laure 5, Dehesa 3, Hubalde 2, Bagatsing 0
MERALCO 83 – David 18, Al-Hussaini 15, Hodge 14, Alapag 10, Amer 10, Buenafe Ryan 6, Atkins 4, Newsome 4, Nabong 2, Dillinger 0, Faundo 0, Hugnatan 0
Quarterscores: 16-12, 35-39, 58-64, 86-83