Prior to Sunday night, Blackwater Elite had high hopes of scoring a victory over the troubled Mahindra Floodbuster to continue their playoff push. But the latter came out firing — playing the villain’s role to spoil their aspirations.
Finding their groove on both ends in the game’s final quarter, the new and improved Floodbuster scored a morale-boosting victory over the Elite, 96-87, to halt their six-game skid at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
“Wow. That’s all I can say right now,” said Mahindra coach Chris Gavina, as the win improved their card to 2-7.
“Great, amazing effort from our new guys, Glenn and Eric,” added Gavina of his new players via trade Glenn Khobuntin and Eric Camson, who made quick impact as they chipped in 15 and 9 markers each.
“They’ve only been with us for a few days and they’ve had an immediate impact towards the rest of our guys and our guys have embraced them.”
Still, the main man for Mahindra proved to be point guard Reden Celda, who led his team with 18 points on 11 shots alongside four rebounds and four assists. Import Keith Wright supplied 16 points and 16 caroms.
Tied at 70 early in the payoff period, the Floodbuster suddenly pounced on the Elite through a 21-9 outburst — sealed by a Celda triple and an LA Revilla pull-up jumper — to erect a 12-point lead, 91-79, with 4:33 to go.
A baseline jumper by Jackson Corpuz and a triple by new Khobuntin still with 2:09 left to play proved to be the nail in the coffin, as the Floodbuster coasted to the nine-point victory.
“Coming into this game, our energy is revived and refreshed in the past few days of practice. I can honestly say that the togetherness of these guys going into this game was a high value asset in regards to us winning tonight,” Gavina added. “They just committed to each other.”
The Elite were led by import Greg Smith with 29 points on 50 percent shooting to go with 25 rebounds. Forwards Nino Cañaleta and Kyle Pascual backed him up with 11 points each in the loss, which drags their card to 2-7, identical to Mahindra.
The Floodbuster’s bench were stellar tonight, as they sustained the starters’ run to contribute 54 points to their total output. They also ran the floor better, scoring 18 off transition.
Mahindra will try to post another win as they battle Phoenix on May 21, Sunday, 4:30 PM at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Meanwhile, Blackwater will try to bounce back versus Ginebra on May 26, Friday, 7:00 PM at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Mahindra (96) – Celda 18, Wright 16, Khobuntin 15, Camson 9, Paniamogan 8, Corpuz 8, Caperal 6, Revilla 4, Ballesteros 4, Teng 3, Yee 3, Salva 2, Elorde 0.
Blackwater (87) – Smith 29, Canaleta 11, Pascual 11, Digregorio 9, Cruz 9, Sena 7, Sumang 4, Gamalinda 4, Aguilar 2, Banal 1, Buenafe 0, Pinto 0.
Quarterscores: 25-26, 48-48, 68-70, 96-87.