Taking a 97-84 victory, point guard Maverick Ahanmisi lifted Converge to end its two-game skid in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Ahanmisi ended with 17 points, 14 of which he made in the fourth quarter alone as he led the FiberXers’ late-game pull away en route back to the win column after suffering losses to MVP teams TNT and Meralco. He also had eight rebounds and eight assists in under 29 minutes of playing time.
“We wanted to come to understand that they are a lot better than their record. TerraFirma is a tough team, and we know how good they can be,” said Converge coach Jeff Cariaso. “We wanted to focus on the defensive end, and we wanted to win in rebounding.”
“We feel that when we win that category, we have a chance,” he added.
Ahanmisi gave Converge the lead for good, 75-72, with a huge three-pointer with still 6:45 to play. Mike DiGregorio nailed his own triple in the FiberXers’ next possession, giving them a six-point cushion midway through the fourth period.
All of his five field goals came from beyond the arc, including one with 2:24 left that gave them an 86-81 lead — and the kickstarter to the finishing run.
Converge snapped a two-game slide to improve to 2-3 in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup, while Dyip remained winless at 0-4.
It was a battle of undermanned teams, with TerraFirma playing sans injured players Isaac Go and Ed Daquioag; they also lost Bonbon Batiller to a knee injury in the second quarter. Converge; meanwhile, were without the injured Jeron Teng and Kevin Racal, while Abu Tratter has yet to suit up as well.
However, the Dyip refused to fade away easily
They made it a one-point game, 81-80, with still 3:26 left on a three-pointer by Eric Camson. David Murrell scored inside for Converge to give them some breathing room, but Camson’s split at the line kept TerraFirma within striking distance, 83-81, with 2:37 to go.
Ahanmisi was unstoppable, however, as he drilled yet another triple to restore a five-point gap, 86-81. DiGregorio knocked down two charities with 1:36 to go to make it a seven-point lead, before Aldrech Ramos connected on an open triple to bring the Dyip within four, 88-84.
“Mav’s a vet,” said head coach Jeff Cariaso of the seven-year pro. “So, he’s one of the guys that we are relying on heavily to carry us. So, with our young core, we want him to step up in all aspects, not just on the court.”
Mike DiGregorio top-scored for the FiberXers with 19 points as he also helped in that fourth quarter attack, scoring 12 of his output there. He and Ahanmisi scored nine of their side’s last 11 points of the game.
David Murrell turned in a career-high outing with 15 points on a 6-of-8 clip from the field. Taylor Browne notched another twin-digit outing with 10 points as rookie big man Justin Arana had 10 as well, alongside 12 rebounds.
Ramos finished with 15 points while Joseph Gabayni led TerraFirma with 18 points and seven boards in a losing effort. Joshua Munzon struggled with his shot, going 5-of-18 for 10 points along with 10 boards and five dimes.
Joseph Gabayni, meanwhile, had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead Terrafirma, who remained winless after four games.
Aldrech Ramos had 15 points, while Juami Tiongson and Eric Camson made 13 points apiece in the loss that saw them fail to protect a 69-67 lead early in the final period — they actually led by as much as eight in the second period.
“We wanna be consistent,” said Cariaso after getting their second win. “I’ve learned, not just as a player but as a coach, that you gotta be able to get some wins in a row, get some wins together for you to have a chance.”
The Dyip will try to get their first win of the season versus the 2-1 Blackwater on Saturday, June 25, 5:15 p.m. also at the Ynares Center. Converge will face the league-leading San Miguel Beer (3-0) next on Sunday, June 26, 6:30 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
• Converge 97 – DiGregorio 19, Ahanmisi 17, Murrell 15, Arana 10, Browne 10, Hill 9, Ambohot 8, Adamos 4, Ilagan 3, Stockton 1, Bulanadi 1, Tolomia 0, Lojera 0.
• Terrafirma 84 – Gabayni 18, Ramos 15, Tiongson 13, Camson 13, Munzon 10, Balagasay 6, Calvo 4, Mina 3, Gomez de Liaño 2, Cahilig 0, Batiller 0.
Quarters: 17-21, 43-42, 63-62, 97-84