Former high school star Keith Agovida revives career with late heroics for Mahindra
Keith Agovida scored 11 points for Mahindra - all in the second half. Jaime Campos

KEITH Agovida proved to be Mahindra coach Chris Gavina’s trump card in the Enforcers’ 101-95 win over Alaska in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday night.

Playing in just his fourth game for the Enforcers after being traded from Blackwater in the offseason, the rookie wingman spelled the difference in his team’s fourth straight win, rising to the occasion with a handful of big plays down the stretch.

None was bigger than the undergoal stab off a backdoor cut and off a feed from import James White that punctuated the Enforcers’ come-from-behind win.

“Keith was my magic hugot tonight,” Gavina said of Agovida, who is best remembered for scoring a then record 82 points in one juniors game for Jose Rizal University in the NCAA eight years ago.

On Wednesday night, he scored 11 points - all in the second half.

 “He came in, our next-man-up mentality really kicked in in the second half because we lost such a big part in (injured) LA (Revilla) and everyone else just stepped in.”

[See Giant-killer Mahindra welcomes back Pacquiao with big upset of Alaska]

Agovida, a fourth-round pick in the last draft, showed glimpses of his potential for the Elite in the Philippine Cup but failed to stay in the rotation in the Commissioner’s Cup on the way to being shipped to the Enforcers, where he has now enjoyed the trust of Gavina.

“Siguro binigyan ako ng kumpiyansa ng coach ko, na parang gusto niya na mailabas ko yung talent ko sa team,” the 26-year-old Agovida said.

“Wala naman (gustong patunayan),” he was quick to add. “Para sa akin lang, gusto ko lang mailabas yung talent ko. Pag pinasok ako, gusto ko nakikita nila yung effort ko.”

And Gavina can certainly attest to his young ward’s progress.

“Keith has just been getting better and better,” the rookie coach said. “In practice, teammates keep motivating him to really attack and I think, he’s just getting into his comfort zone. Him and Paolo (Taha) are just two dynamic guards that can consistently perform for us.”

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Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos