Mahindra finally nails win after stunning Blackwater

By Ivan Saldajeno

BOCAUE—Mahindra's most awaited moment came at the "most wonderful time of the year".

The Floodbusters scored their first win of the PBA Philippine Cup after denying the Blackwater Elite in overtime, 97-93, at the Philippine Arena on Christmas night.

Mahindra roared back from 15 points down and survived a late scare in extra time to finally get to the win column after six tries.

After a close contest for most of the regulation, Blackwater looked to pull away, opening a 79-64 lead with 7:58 left in the period.

Mahindra, however, erased the deficit on a 17-2 run to knot the game at 81-all with 1:41 remaining in regulation.

Mac Belo kept the Elite up, 83-81, after making two free throws with 57 seconds to go in regulation, but Nico Salva equalized anew with a basket before his teammates forced a turnover with 26.6 seconds to go, giving the Floodbusters a chance to steal the win in regulation.

Salva, however, failed to put back a Nico Elorde missed three-ball at the buzzer.

Mahindra then dominated the free basketball and appeared to have won it with 22.2 seconds left after holding on to a 93-86 lead.

But a John Pinto triple that cut the lead to four sparked yet another wild finish.

After Salva converted two free throws, Too Sumang took the deuce back with a jumper while scoring another layup after Salva missed two more from the line to trim the gap to two, 95-93.

Ryan Araña finally sealed the win with two charities with 1.8 seconds to go.

Alex Mallari led the Floodbusters, who tied the NLEX Road Warriors at 1-5, with 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four steals, and one block, while Araña finished with 19 points, six rebounds, one assist, and one steal.

Arth Dela Cruz led the Elite, who failed to virtually tie the San Miguel Beermen at the top of the standings, with 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, and four steals.

Box Scores:

Mahindra 97-Mallari 23, Arana 19, Salva 14, Eriobu 9, Revilla 9, Yee 8, Elorde 6, Nimes 4, DiGregorio 3, Escoto 2, Ballesteros 0, Celda 0, Deutchman 0, Paniamogan 0, Webb 0

Blackwater 93-Dela Cruz 18, Pinto 15, Belo 14, Sumang 12, Sena 10, Pascual 9, Buenafe 6, Aguilar 3, Banal 2, Cervantes 2, Gamalinda 2, Ababou 0, Forrester 0, Miranda 0

Quarterscores: 18-18, 41-41, 59-66, 83-83, 97-93

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