The Mahindra Enforcers defeated the NLEX Road Warriors, 106-99, to record their third win in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup 2016 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Friday.
Import Augustus Gilchrist performed big for the Enforcers posting 30 points and 10 rebounds.
Mahindra started strong in the first quarter with Gil¬christ establishing an early seven-point advantage, 27-20, for his team going into the second half.
NLEX fought valiantly with high-scoring Al Thornton leading the charge but their effort fell short as the squad was still down by three points, 48-45, at halftime.
The Enforcers did not relent on their onslaughts as play resumed resulting in a one-point lead, 26-25. Mahindra managed to stretch their advantage to 74-70 by the end of the third quarter.
NLEX saw a glimpse of hope midway through the final period as a trey by Simon Enciso connected to give his side an 88-85 lead with just 6:20 left in the game.
But Mahindra quickly regained the upper hand, 91-90, following a slam by Gilchrist with less than five minutes left on regulation. The Enforcers did not give the Road Warriors chance to recover until the final buzzer.
Niño Canaleta finished with 21 points and seven rebounds while Chito Jaime had an impressive15 markers and 11 boards.
Aldrech Ramos had 12 points and 10 rebounds while Michael Digregorio and LA Revilla notched 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Al Thornton finished with 29 points and nine rebounds while Sean Anthony contributed 18 points and nine boards for the Road Warriors.
Despite his team’s loss, veteran Asi Taulava marked his 6000th career rebound in the PBA with a double-double performance of 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“It’s a very crucial game for us. I told the boys we need to play 48 minutes of crucial basketball,” Mahindra deputy coach Chito Victolero said during the post-match press conference.
“We expected the runs [of our opponents]. Last season our problem is we get rattled whenever our opponents get runs. And I’m happy our work in the off-season paid off,” he added.
Victolero also commended Gilchrist, “We are very happy with him [Gilchrist]. He does everything. We are happy with his performance because he is a team player,” he concluded.