When Prince Ibeh fouled out of NorthPort’s 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal game versus San Miguel on Sunday night, it was a big blow to the Batang Pier – but a welcome development for the Beermen.
The 6-foot-10 slotman out of Texas already had five fouls in three quarters; he got the boot with 3:43 left to play when Chris Ross attacked his defense. Ibeh left the match with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and a whopping seven blocks.
San Miguel breathed a huge sigh of relief upon seeing Ibeh make his way on to the bench. Ibeh had been causing serious damage, after all, as he played a huge role in the Batang Pier’s fightback from a 17-point third-quarter deficit.
And without him on the floor, San Miguel took advantage. The Beermen walked away with the 98-84 victory in the bag.
“Muntik pa kami nung huli, kung ‘di pa nag-graduate si Ibeh,” quipped Arwind Santos, who had 15 markers in the win. “Yung Ibeh, malaking bagay din.
“Yung inside namin, nakaka-attack ‘pag wala yung Ibeh, [kaya] malaking bagay.”
The win served as payback for San Miguel. In their conference debut last June 5, the Beermen received a rude welcome from the same Batang Pier side, as they suffered a harsh 33-point beating, 88-121.
More riveting is that the victory blew Northport’s twice-to-beat edge, which the Batang Pier earned after the eliminations by collecting nine wins in 11 games.
The Beermen are now on the cusp of blowing up that advantage with a win on Wednesday. But Santos isn’t looking too far ahead, since they have more work to do if they want to bamboozle the Batang Pier.
“Hihimayin namin yung mga viewings namin kung saan pa kami kukuha ng puntos at kung saan kami maga-adjust para mas pulido,” he said.
“Kailangan hanapin pa namin yung ibang weakness ng NorthPort para dun kami mag-focus.”