By JONAS TERRADO
Rookie Reden Celda scored a running one-hander with 21.6 seconds left in overtime and Mahindra stunned Phoenix in overtime, 122-121, yesterday to keep its slim playoff hopes alive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The former National University guard came off a screen before floating a shot off Phoenix import Jameel McKay that turned out to be the winning shot.
Phoenix’s Matthew Wright missed a three-point attempt on the next play, but Mahindra guard LA Revilla muffed two foul shots that gave the Fuel Masters a lifeline.
McKay drove inside for a go-ahead shot but couldn’t convert, resulting in a juggle for possession until the final buzzer, triggering wild celebration from the Mahindra bench.
The win gave Mahindra its third in 10 games and will have to beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on June 2 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to stay above water.
“My heart kinda stopped in the last three seconds,” Mahindra coach Chris Gavina said after the game. “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. Hat’s off to my guys.”
Celda, who made it to the PBA despite an on-and-off UAAP career at NU before emerging as a top player for Tanduay in the PBA D-League, scored a personal-best 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
While Celda delivered the winning basket, it was Revilla who saved Mahindra from elimination had they been able to beat the Floodbuster in regulation.
Revilla scored the last seven points of the fourth quarter, including a layup that eventually led to a 116-all stalemate and a five-minute extension. He likewise finished with a career-high 26 points with five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Phoenix dropped to 4-6, blowing a chance of eliminating not only Mahindra but also the 2-7 Blackwater Elite.
RJ Jazul’s three-pointer from the left elbow gave Phoenix a 121-118 lead with 3:19 remaining in overtime. But the Fuel Masters missed their final seven shots.
Wright, playing his first game for Phoenix after making a good account of himself in Gilas Pilipinas’ unbeaten run in the SEABA Championship, scored 17 points, but made just two after the first half.
Phoenix plays winless NLEX on Saturday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, looking to at keep its inside chance of clinching a quarters berth.