James White proud of Mahindra’s accomplishment despite quick playoff exit

ANTIPOLO–James White believes Mahindra’s first playoff appearance in the PBA Governors Cup is an achievement in itself.

Mahindra actually got of to a quick 26-18 advantage in the opening period of its quarterfinal match against Meralco on Saturday at the Ynares Center.

But once Meralco settled down, Mahindra eventually lost control as import Allen Durham, rookie Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge connived in the second half to lead the Bolts to a runaway 105-82 win.

Meralco advanced to the best-of-five semifinal series and will face sister team and playoff top seed TNT.

“Yeah, every loss when it comes to end the season is emotional. But I think the emotional part was just I built a bond with the teammates and coaches and even management, of them taking that chance of bringing a 22-year-old out here,” White said as he wound up his first PBA campaign with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

“I think it’s a blessing, the first playoff berth. I don’t think that’s an underachievement at all,” he added.

“First playoff berth, they never accomplished that (before) so I don’t think that’s an underachievement. I think that’s an accomplishment and they just got to keep building off of it.”

The 6-foot-8 White made heads turn with his athleticism, youthful exuberance and leadership, which helped turn the second-year-old franchise into a giant killer.

The Enforcer made the sports headlines after becoming the only team this conference to beat TNT Katropa, while adding defending champion San Miguel Beer, Alaska Aces and Star, among the solid teams they have defeated.

Still, White, who is in his first professional league since seeing action for Georgia Tech last year, refused to take sole credit for Mahindra’s franchise-best six-win total in the season-ending conference.

“I don’t think of it as an individual accomplishment, I look at it as a team,” he said, pointing to his teammates and coaches.

“It started with (assistant) coach Chris (Gavina), his philosophy coming in, which is stay confident no matter what. Give a hundred percent. And all the way down to my teammates, they instill confidence in each other, they believe in each other and we trust the process. That’s what happens, when you trust the process as a team you win.”

White said after his Mahindra stint, he hopes to see action in the NBA, or probably in the NBA D-League.

“When I get back, I think training camp will be over so it’s just a matter of D-League affiliation or just coming over to the team signing as an unrestricted free agent. But I don’t know right now. It’s in God’s hands.” – Jason Mercene

Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH