Giant-killer Mahindra welcomes back Pacquiao with major upset over Alaska
Mahindra game hero Keith Agovida is mobbed by teammates. Jaime Campos

WHAT’S surprising is starting to become the norm.

Mahindra gave doubters another reason to believe it is for real as the Enfiorcer stunned Alaska, 101-95, on Wednesday to sustain their best start in the franchise's young history in the PBA.

The Enforcers overhauled an early double-digit deficit behind import James White and unlikely heroes Keith Agovida and Mike Digregorio to topple another contender in the Aces in their Governors’ Cup match at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Enforcers thus registered their fourth straight victory to regain a share of the lead, while dealing the Aces their third loss in four games.

“We just persevered through the initial wave of Alaska’s high-powered offense,” Enforcers coach Chris Gavina said. “Our guys responded in the second half with their pure will to win.”

White registered 32 points and 15 boards as the young, yet unflappable American cager buried key baskets that kept the Enforcers within striking distance from an Aces side that was eager to bounce back from a close loss to TNT Katropa.

But it was DiGregorio who buried the jumper that put them up for good, before Agovida finished a feed from White in their next offensive possession to seal the deal.

Agovida made the most of his 16 minutes on the court as he finished with 11 points after going scoreless in the first half, on top of three boards, and three assists, while DiGregorio added seven points—all in the fourth period.

The Aces wasted an early 16-point lead, a cushion that was sparked late in the first period when they pounced on the cameo appearance of playing-coach Manny Pacquiao.

 

The scores:

MAHINDRA 101 - White 32, Ramos 14, Canaleta 13, Agovida 11, Zandi 9, Digregorio 7, Taha 5, Elorde 4, Bagatsing 3, Aguilar 2, Yee 1, Ballesteros 0, Guinto 0, Pacquiao 0, Pinto 0, Jaime 0

ALASKA 95 – Henton 33, Abueva 21, Banchero 8, Exciminiano 8, Jazul 6, Thoss 6, Dela Cruz 4, Menk 3, Casio 2, Dela Rosa 2, Hontiveros 2, Baclao 0, Magat 0, Manuel 0, Racal 0

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Quarterscores: 23-31, 39-54, 65-74, 101-95

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos