SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Maverick Ahanmisi unleashed his best game when Alaska needed it most.
The Fil-Am guard came up big to tow the Aces to a thrilling 122-119 overtime victory over the erstwhile streaking NLEX Road Warriors and into the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals Monday at the AUF Arena.
Ahanmisi fired a team-high 25 points while also tallying 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 34 minutes of play.
“We just wanted to come out and play aggressive. We knew how big this game was. For us, being in contention for the top four, we knew we needed to win this game especially against that NLEX team that has been playing well. So, we just wanted to come out and give our all,” he said.
The 29-year-old cager poured eight points in the final frame and four markers in the extra period, including a strong layup that handed Alaska a 120-115 lead with 1:18 left before fouling out of the game.
Ahanmisi credited the team for his aggressive performance.
“I owe it all to my coaches and teammates. They just told me to stay aggressive and like I said it’s just the team that shows chemistry and character. Everybody contributed and everybody did their part tonight.”
The Los Angeles, California native was actually the last one to arrive in the PBA bubble.
Despite coming off a lengthy stay in the USA, Ahanmisi managed to remain in top shape, much to the surprise of Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso.
“When he came in here, I was expecting him to be a little heavy but he didn’t. He looked like he was in shape,” said Cariaso.
The 48-year-old mentor has nothing but praise for the hard work that Ahanmisi has been putting in to maintain his condition, especially coming into the unique bubble setup.
“Even if he was in the States for a very long time, he was doing our workouts everyday plus more. So he knew that coming into the next conference, whether it was a bubble or not, he needed to be ready and he took care of his body.”
“There you can see the professionalism of Mav. He just needed to get that game shape better. He’s doing a lot better and feeling better now.”