Mahindra nets another big fish for a victim in Alaska.
MANILA: For the second straight game, Mahindra proved that it is for real. Up against a traditional title contender yet again, the Enforcers showed their true mettle and brought down Alaska, 101-95, coming back from double-digit deficits in the first half to extend their franchise-best start and again claim a piece of the lead in the PBA Governors' Cup at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. James White was efficient as usual, and rookie coach Chris Gavina - pardon the pun - pulled an ace up his sleeve in Keith Agovida as the Enforcers closed out with a 13-2 run to rise to 4-0 and catch TNT KaTropa at the top. The Texters also scored a 101-95 come-from-behind victory over NLEX in the first game, with Jason Castro shooting 23 points, issuing eight assists and grabbing seven rebounds. Mahindra scored a fitting follow-up to an upset conquest of defending champion San Miguel Beer last week, with Gavina saying that the team's only secret being pure, hard work. "They just persevered," Gavina told sportswriters. "Our guys were just purely resilient tonight." White finished with 32 points on 13-for-15 shooting from the field, hitting seven in that telling run, with Agovida firing four of his seven fourth quarter points in that same stretch that started with 2:35 left. From 88-93, White scored five straight points that knotted things up before the last Alaska basket, a keyhole jumper from starting center Sonny Thoss, gave the Aces the lead for the last time at 95-93 going into the last two minutes. The Alaska defense then completely forgot to keep an eye on Agovida, who drove unmolested for a left-handed layup with 1:50 remaining that gave the Enforcers the lead for the first time - and to stay. Agovida, who scored 82 points in a high school NCAA game for Jose Rizal, then got a feed from White with 42.8 remaining, a basket that sandwiched a jumper by Michael DiGregorio, which ushered the Enforcers to a 99-95 lead that totally disoriented the Aces. "No, not at all," Gavina said when asked if he ever thought that his side would be pacing the tournament undefeated going into this weekend's All-Star break. "What we wanted was to just make sure that we were well-prepared for whatever kind of environment we would be playing in." Gavina and his crew managed to pull out the win despite gambling on fielding boxing icon and Senator Manny Pacquiao late in the first quarter. After being out of action for close to nine months because of his fight schedule and campaign sortie, Pacquiao played the final 2:59 of the opening frame and failed to contribute anything. He missed the only shot he took, an 18-foot transition jumper. Mahindra trailed by just two, 18-20 when Pacquiao went in, only for the Enforcers to find themselves trailing, 31-23 going into the second period as Calvin Abueva knocked down two straight triples in Pacquiao's face. Alaska would go on to take a 43-27 lead, only for Gavina to be able to steady the ship again somewhat in the third before getting the goods from White and Agovida in the fourth and extend their magical ride in the tournament. LeDontae Henton paced the Aces with 33 points, hitting 12 of them in the fourth. But Alaska fell to 1-3 when its guns went silent during the most critical time in the stretch. It was the second straight loss for the Aces. Rookie Troy Rosario scored 20 points to back up Castro, while import Mario Little tossed in eight in the fourth period as the Texters survived another scare to also extend their unbeaten streak. Henry Walker fired 26 points, but was held to just four points by the TNT defense in the fourth. The Road Warriors also lost a second straight game, and, like the Aces, are at 1-3 going into the All-Star break.
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