Explosions on the 3-point line from Aldrech Ramos in the second quarter and KG Canaleta in the fourth paved the way for the Mahindra Enforcers to close out a gutsy 102-96 win over Philippine Cup champions the San Miguel Beermen, Saturday afternoon in Binan City, Laguna.
The first quarter opened to a heated trade of baskets between the two squads, with the imports leading the charge. Tyler Wilkerson had 8 early points for San Miguel, delivering the goods with reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo unable to start the game. Augustus Gilchrist of Mahindra meanwhile combined with veteran KG Canaleta to produce 14 points for the Enforcers. The lead exchanged hands possession after possession, with neither team looking to let the other pull away. At the end of the first twelve minutes, Mahindra led by a hairline, 24-23.
Two triples from Aldrech Ramos gave Mahindra the means to put some distance between them and the Beermen, 38-29, just three minutes into the second. Baskets from Philippine Cup heroes Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross trimmed the gap for the Beermen, but what followed was something the previous conference’s champs had no answer for. Built on five triples in the quarter, Aldrech Ramos exploded for 17 points in the second alone, keeping the points coming for Mahindra as their import and bigmen struggled to find easy baskets. At the half, the Enforcers led, 51-46.
The Beermen however were able to take advantage of a Mahindra cooldown, and care of baskets from Tyler Wilkerson, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, and Ronald Tubid were able to take back the lead four minutes into the second half, 57-55. But with backups John Pinto and Michael DiGregorio rising up to the occasion, the Enforcers were able to find a way to stack up the points even with second quarter Ramos taking a breather. With two minutes left on the clock, Mahindra led by double digits, 70-60. Baskets from Ryan Arana and June Mar Fajardo in the last two minutes helped trim the gap to a manageable 74-69 by the end of the third.
As the fourth quarter opened, the two sides would play Tom and Jerry once more. A resurgent Tyler Wilkerson was able to lead the Beermen to a 76-all draw after four minutes of play, but was answered on the other end by back-to-back triples from Aldrech Ramos and Karl Dehesa to extend the Mahindra lead once more. But the Beermen refused to back down from the challenge, stealing the lead , 86-84 after three minutes care of baskets from Arwind Santos, Lassiter, and Wilkerson. Answering for the Enforcer was KG Canaleta, who nailed three straight treys on the other end to give Mahindra back the lead, 83-86, with just around three minutes left on the clock.
The last two minutes saw a three-point play by Wilkerson put the Beermen within three, 93-96, and Mahindra’s Karl Dehesa throw the ball away to give San Miguel a much needed extra possession. A technical foul on Mahindra’s LA Revilla and contested turnovers marred the final minute of the ballgame as the Enforcer clung to a 99-96 lead. Philippine Cup MVP Chris Ross made a series of crucial stops to slow down the Enforcer’s escape, but last season’s newcomers were able to hit the right baskets to ensure their survival.
Player of the Game Ramos had 26 points and 8 rebounds, and shot an amazing six-of-seven from the 3-point line. Canaleta meanwhile finished with 15 points, 12 of which came from his four treys. LA Revilla also contributed 19 for the Enforcer.
Wilkerson led 29 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Beermen in his debut. Arwind Santos had 19 points, while Marcio Lassiter had 14 markers.
Mahindra improves to 2-1 and will face the NLEX Road Warriors on Friday, February 26 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. Meanwhile, the San Miguel Beermen (0-1) look to bounce back against the Globalport Batang Pier on the same day.
Mahindra (102) – Ramos 26, Revilla 19, Canaleta 15, Gilchrist 15, Dehesa 10, Guinto 9, DiGregorio 4, Pinto 2, Yee 2.
San Miguel Beer (96) – Wilkerson 29, Santos 17, Lassiter 14, Fajardo 8, Arana 8, Ross 8, Heruela 5, Tubid 4, Espinas 3.
Quarterscores: 24-23, 51-46, 74-69, 102-96.