Better late than never for Maverick Ahanmisi.
After being the last player to enter the PBA bubble in Pampanga, the Fil-Nigerian guard showed up when it mattered most and led the Alaska Aces to a Philippine Cup playoff spot off a 122-119 overtime win against the NLEX Road Warriors.
Fresh off a conference-high 11-point game against NorthPort, Ahanmisi immediately reset his conference-best marks with 25 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes.
With the win, the Aces not only clinched a playoff spot for themselves, but also guaranteed the spots of five-time reigning conference champion San Miguel, Meralco, and Magnolia in the process.
The 29-year-old guard only has his teammates and coaches to thank after his much-needed performance.
Prior to Ahanmisi’s last two games, his rise has been a slow one for Alaska, with 3 missed games and 6 single-digit scoring performances in the ones he played in.
“They’re just telling me to stay aggressive. And like I said, I think it just shows our team chemistry and our character coming in,” he said. “Everybody contributed and everybody did their part tonight.”
Head coach Jeff Cariaso, meanwhile, deflected praise right back to his prized guard.
“Mav, you know how special he is, and what capabilities he has. What’s nice about Mav is he has many different skills that we appreciate and we knew that we could use on our team,” Cariaso said in the post-game presser.
“We can use him in a variety of ways and what I like about him is just his toughness on defense. I feel like I can put him in a 1 (point guard), 2 (shooting guard), or 3 (small forward), and to have a luxury with a guy like that is really special,” Cariaso added.
As the Aces ended their tightened elimination round schedule on a high note, they now get the unique luxury of having a few days of rest before the quarterfinals kick off. – Rappler.com