The Phoenix Fuel Masters could have placed themselves on a better position towards the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup playoffs. But the Mahindra Floodbuster, charged by their hunger to win, had other things in mind.
The breaks of the game favored the Floodbuster heavily, as they evaded the gutsy Fuel Masters in extra period, 122-121, to keep their slim playoff hopes beating Sunday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“My heart kinda stopped in the last three seconds,” said a relived Mahindra coach Chris Gavina on the win, which sends their card to 3-7. “I give a great deal of credit to Phoenix. We knew coming in that these guys weren’t gonna be easy to deal with match-up wise.”
The backcourt tandem of LA Revilla and Reden Celda led the way for Mahindra, as both guards posted their career-high in points in the victory. Revilla scored 26 markers, including the last seven points in the final frame that sent the match into an extra five minutes.
“LA is … wow, I’m lost for words on how to describe LA right now,” lauded Gavina of Revilla, who also shot 10-of-14 and dished out five dimes. “His heart is just tremendous, he carried us in the last push, the shot he made at the end of regulation. He was feeling it.”
Celda, meanwhile, produced 25 points on 17 shots, including the game-winning teardrop, alongside four rebounds and three steals.
“Red has turned a corner. He’s probably the most consistent guy right now,” said Gavina of Celda. “For a rookie to carry that much load on his shoulders is tremendous, and it goes to show how much he work he puts in on a day to day basis. The fruits of his labor are coming to fruition right now.”
Mahindra found themselves behind, 121-118, with 3:23 left in overtime, but Jackson Corpuz made an underbasket stab to lift his team behind by a point, 121-120. Keith Wright could have tied or sent the Floodbuster ahead, but his charities with 1:09 to go missed.
However, Celda came in the clutch for the Floodbuster, converting a baseline inbound pass to an instant two points, sinking a tough one-hander all over the defense to give his side a one-point advantage, 122-121, with 21.6 to go.
The Fuel Masters had enough time to turn the tables, but Matthew Wright’s triple attempt from the top of the key muffed. McKay tried to put it back in with nine ticks left, but he also missed. Mahindra then hauled down the huge carom to seal the victory.
The Floodbuster are still on the playoff hunt, but their destiny relies on the other teams. And that is what Gavina iterated as they wish to advance to the next phase.
“I think we’re gonna need some help with some other teams. We’re one game away from Phoenix, so I mean, it’s a good situation to be statistically still in it, some way, somehow, considering the kind of up and down season we had,” Gavina furthered.
Wright added 18 markers and 21 boars for Mahindra, while Eric Camson and Glenn Khobuntin chipped in 17 and 13 markers, respectively.
The Fuel Masters were paced by McKay with 18 points, 12 boards, and seven dimes. Wright supplied 17 markers, 13 in the first half, but shot just 6-of-21 from the floor, including 2-of-11 from the three-point line.
Mahindra shot 53 percent, and forced Phoenix to 16 turnovers, which they converted to 29 points. However, Phoenix received more support from their bench with 52 points.
Mahindra will have their last match of the elimination round against Ginebra on June 2, Friday, 7:00 PM at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Phoenix, meanwhile, will aim to bounce back versus NLEX on May 27, Saturday, 3:00 PM.
Mahindra (122) – Revilla 26, Celda 25, Wright 18, Camson 17, Khobuntin 13, Deutchman 6, Teng 6, Corpuz 4, Nimes 3, Salva 2, Caperal 1, Paniamogan 1, Yee 0, Ballesteros 0.
Phoenix (121) – McKay 18, Wright 17, Alolino 16, Borboran 15, Jazul 15, W. Wilson 10, Baguio 9, Intal 7, Eriobu 6, Dehesa 4, Kramer 2, Torres 2, Lanete 0.
Quarterscores: 27-30, 58-62, 93-93, 116-116, 122-121.