By Dugout Philippines
PASAY--Mahindra is fighting for survival and found a life source from its smallest players.
LA Revilla and Reden Celda combined for 51 points in leading the Floodbuster to a 122-121 squeaker over Phoenix Sunday that kept the former’s hopes alive of making the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Celda, in particular, stood tallest by capping his career-high 25 points with a one-handed runner that gave Mahindra the one-point edge before assuring the victory by coming up with the game’s final defensive rebound that prevented Phoenix from gaining another extra possession.
“My heart kind of stopped in the last six seconds right there,” said Mahindra shotcaller Chris Gavina, referring to Phoenix’s last possession in which both Jameel McKay and Cyrus Baguio missed their respective tries at the winning basket.
The win was only the third in 10 outings for the Floodbuster but greatly fanned their chances of catching the eighth-running team for the last quarterfinals slot. They finish their 11-game elimination round assignments against Barangay Ginebra on June 2.
Any tie for the No. 8 slot would be decided by the PBA quotient, in case of multiple deadlocks, and a knockout game.
“I think we’re going to need some help from other teams…but it’s a good situation to be statistically still in it someway, somehow considering the kind of up and down season we had,” said Gavina.
The loss dropped Phoenix to a 4-6 slate and stalled its bid to cop a berth in the next round. As things stand, the Fuel Masters must win over NLEX in their Saturday game to qualify or else be caught by either or both Mahindra or GlobalPort.
All because the Fuel Masters failed to match Mahindra’s survival instincts typified most by the latter’s primary backcourt partners.
Keith Wright did his part with 21 rebounds on top of 18 points. Eric Camson and Glenn Khobuntin also continued their fine play for their new team by combining for 30 points and nine rebounds.
McKay still wound up with 18 points on top of 12 rebounds, but missed the chance to win it outright for Phoenix when he flubbed a spin move just before the buzzer, leaving the core knotted at 116 as regulation ended.
After missing two games due to his Gilas commitments Matthew Wright returned and promptly netted 17 points while Gelo Alolino, RJ Jazul, Mark Borboran and Willy Wilson chipped in 10 points each.
It was a fitting ending to a game in which 10 deadlocks were forged and neither team led by more than nine points.
Celda, who scored 13 of his points in the third quarter that ended with a 93-all count, lost little of his touch in the extension by scoring its first basket.
Borboran scored from underneath and Jazul boomed in a triple to make it a 121-118 count, but those would prove to be Phoenix’s last points of OT while Jackson Corpuz brought Mahindra closer with a short stab.
After the two teams exchanged misses and only 2.6 seconds left in the Floodbuster’s shotclock, Celda took the baseline inbound pass from Revilla and launched his shot past the scrambling McKay.
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