IT was the phone call that almost spelled the biggest difference for Mahindra on Sunday night.
With his team down by seven against Rain or Shine halfway through the fourth quarter, Floodbuster coach Chris Gavina was forced to answer a phone call in the middle of the game after team manager Eric Pineda asked him to do so.
The other person on the line: coach Manny Pacquiao.
“He called boss Eric and just told me, ‘Always keep your point guard out there,’ and I was like, ‘Alright, boss,’” Gavina, whose designation on paper is lead assistant to Pacquiao, bared after the game with a smile.
Gavina heeded Pacquiao’s words and let LA Revilla run the show with point forward Alex Mallari, and the ploy seemed to work as the Floodbuster scored 13 unanswered points to turn the game around and build a 86-80 lead with over two minutes left in quarter.
“We tried to leave him (Revilla) out there as much as possible and we put Alex in for defensive purposes, someone being able to get to the basket,” Gavina said. “It worked, but not to the extent we wanted to.”
“Maybe (it made a difference),” he added. You never know. The tide changed at that point, and it made me realize that he was right: keep our point guard in there, so his advice worked. We were almost able to pull it out tonight.”
The Elasto Painters, however, displayed championship poise to regain command and eventually take the 99-95 victory in the extra session.
“To play against the defending champs like that, you got to really play great; good doesn’t do it, especially for a young team with a young import,” Gavina said. “All the little details that you need to stay focused on all add up to the end whether you win or lose.
“Today, we played a lot better to our identity,” he added. “We had great commitment to our defensive effort, energy…and we showed a level of toughness tonight, but we just weren’t able to come up with the plays that were needed at the end.”
Gavina is hoping import James White, particularly, learn to make better decisions down the stretch after making, what the Mahindra coach felt, was the opposite when the 23-year-old cager decided to take a jumper that missed at the end of regulation.
“I really wanted Alex to have the ball in his hands because he was our best penetrator and he makes the right decisions when he has to, but you got to kind of allow your import to either be the hero or the goat. Today, it didn’t work out.
“I didn’t like the fact that he (White) waited so long to just shoot a jumpshot when he could’ve easily attacked his defender, and at least get to the foul line or get a shot closer to the basket where he’s more effective,” he added. “That’s something that he has to learn from as we move forward.”