Mahindra rides Paniamogan’s hot hand, frustrates Meralco
After notching what its chief assistant coach says is a “Miracle on Christmas,” Mahindra dished off an even more workman-like performance.
The Floodbuster rode the back of a red-hot Philip Paniamogan to beat Meralco 105-92 Wednesday for the former’s second straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Paniamogan came off the bench to sink his first eight shots, including six from deep, to finish with a career-high 25 points and lead the Floodbuster to a 105-92 win yesterday over the Bolts at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In all Paniamogan had seven triples and Jason Deutchmann, Russell Escoto, Mark Yee and Nico Salva also connected from deep as Mahindra wound up making 21 three-point shots that were all simply too much for Meralco to bear.
Deutchmann, Salva and Mallari each wound up with 13 points apiece with the latter adding a gamehigh 11 assists. Michael Digregorio and Escoto each had at least 10 points in helping the Floodbuster notch a 64-23 advantage in bench points.
“I really feel like we had our shooters going today,” said Floodbuster shot-caller Chris Gavina after his side followed up its 97-93 overtime win over Blackwater last Christmas, its first since a 0-5 start.
“I call that ‘Miracle on Christmas,'” added Gavina, whose team fought back from 15 points down in regulation against the Elite before taking full charge in the extension.
“That gave us the confidence to believe we can win.”
Gavina also dedicated the win to the wife of team consultant Joe Lipa, Ging, who is fighting cancer. “This is a big dedication to her. I hope it uplifts her spirits,” he said.
Just as important, Mahindra finally got out of the cellar which is now occupied by Meralco after it absorbed a fifth straight loss and dropped to 2-6 overall.
Reynel Hugnatan equaled his career high with 28 points, Chris Newsome added 19 points and eight assists and Baser Amer 12 points, but the Bolts had little answer when their opponents started really going in the second period.
One key is Meralco failing to match Mahindra’s pace when the latter played small ball and failing to find too many openings when the Floodbuster switched to a taller lineup.
The difference even stood at 17 points twice, the last at 86-69, and Meralco would come no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
To highlight Mahindra’s dominance, Deutchmann even boomed in a trey to peg a 92-79 count, but had to leave the game for good due to cramps on his left leg.
Digregorio led the way in the endgame by stringing up five straight points, practically sealing the deal 101-85, only 1:55 to go.
The win did not come without a cost as Yee was ejected for a flagrant foul-penalty 2 against Amer, still 7:07 left in the third period. Amer was also taken out a little while later after completing the and-one that brought the Bolts within 53-63.
Anjo Caram canned a jumper, Bryan Faundo a putback and Hugnatan a floater that brought Meralco within 59-63, but Nico Elorde and Salva drained a trey each in helping Mahindra go to the last frame with a 73-64 lead.
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