James White delivers double double as Mahindra ends dry spell at expense of NLEX
Returning import James White had 30 points and 23 boards to lead Mahindra to its first win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup. Jerome Ascano

IN a battle of two winless teams, Mahindra showed more desire to end its early dry spell in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as it added to the frustration of NLEX, hacking out an 89-81 decision on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.  

The Floodbuster built an early lead and weathered a late comeback by the Road Warriors to barge into the winning column after two losses, while keeping their victims winless after three starts.

The Road Warriors also suffered a seventh straight loss dating back to the Philippine Cup – their longest in franchise history, while leaving coach Yeng Guiao mired in his worst start in eight years, or since the 2009 Philippine Cup with Red Bull when he also started 0-3.

James White showed the way with 30 points and 23 boards for the Floodbuster, while Ryan Arana, Reden Celda, Gary David, and LA Revilla provided the most support among the locals.

“Extremely gritty win tonight,” Mahindra coach Chris Gavina said. “We’re moving past our previous mistakes, missed assignments, and lack of execution.”

“We played to our identity tonight – toughness, mentally as well as physically against a well-coached NLEX side,” the young coach added as his team replicated its 105-96 win over the Road Warriors in the all-Filipino conference.

White set the tone for their first win, firing 13 of his output in the opening period where the Floodbuster built a six-point lead, which grew to as many as 15 in the third quarter.

The springy 6-foot-8 American forward scored just two points in the final frame, but it hardly mattered as Arana played his best game in a while, taking over alongside Revilla.  

The Road Warriors nudged to within four points, 84-79, after Eric Camson split his charities with 31 seconds left, but that was the closest they got.

Wayne Chism paced the Road Warriors with 28 points, 21 boards, four blocks, and two assists in 38 minutes in a losing effort.

The scores: 

Mahindra 89 – White 30, Revilla 9, Celda 9, David 9, Arana 9, Mallari 7, Yee 5, Paniamogan 3, Galanza 3, Deutchman 2, Apinan 2, Salva 1, Ballesteros 0

NLEX 81 – Chism 28, Rios 15, Camson 8, Soyud 7, Lnete 6, Alas 5, Taulava 4, Lastimosa 2, Tiongson 2, Guinto 2, Khobuntin 2, Baracael 0, Monfort 0, J. Villanueva 0

Quarterscores: 24-18, 44-34, 68-62, 89-81

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos