MANILA, Philippines -- Maverick Ahanmisi ensured that Converge's losing streak in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup would end at two games on Wednesday, as he did the heavy lifting down the stretch of their game against TerraFirma.
Playing without Jeron Teng and Kevin Racal, the FiberXers needed Ahanmisi to step up and the veteran delivered, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter to help Converge pull away from the Dyip for good.
His three-pointer with 6:45 left put them ahead, 75-72, and he nailed another triple with just over two minutes to go to give them a five-point cushion, 86-81. When the Dyip threatened late, Ahanmisi assisted on a clutch layup by Jeo Ambohot that gave the FiberXers some breathing room, before knocking down a pair of free throws that essentially ended TerraFirma's chances of coming back.
"Mav's a vet," Converge coach Jeff Cariaso said after they came away with a 97-84 triumph against TerraFirma, their second win of the conference against three losses.
"He's one of the guys that we are relying on heavily to carry us," he added.
Ahanmisi did just that against TerraFirma, as he finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists in 29 minutes. He made five of his seven attempts from long range in the game, four of which came in the final quarter.
But Cariaso said Ahanmisi's contributions go well beyond the playing court.
"With our young core, with our young team, we want him to step up in all aspects, not just on the court," he said. "I'm surprised by what Mav did tonight. He's always game-ready, he's always focused."
"He's a leader off the court also, he's teaching the guys and talking to the guys a lot. So we need his guidance and leadership, not just on the court but off it also," he added.
What was surprising for Cariaso is that Ahanmisi is playing at a high level despite missing the entire preseason. The guard signed a one-year deal with the FiberXers after they opened their campaign with a loss to Rain or Shine, and did not play in any of their tune-up matches.
In four games since, he is averaging 12.8 points on 44.4% shooting, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists.
"I know what kind of work ethic he has. But when you miss the whole preseason, it's a little scary going into the conference," Cariaso admitted.
"So it was a worry of mine, but again, the veteran that he is, he was in shape, but he wasn't in basketball shape. And you know, with Mav and a guy like him, it just takes a couple of weeks of just getting back in the grind of things, being able to practice, practice hard, and that's what he did," he added.