NorthPort’s impressive run in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup continued on Saturday evening.
Coming off four must-win games from the tail-end of the eliminations to the quarterfinals, the eight-seeded Batang Pier extended their winning ways after dealing Ginebra a 124-90 beatdown to take a 1-0 lead in their semifinal series.
For import Michael Qualls, that stretch of winning those important games boosted the team’s morale.
“I really think it was winning every game that gave us a morale boost.
“We had four elimination games back-to-back, [and] we had to win every single one,” said the American cager moments after the match at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Qualls himself was also impressive in the victory. He had 27 of his game-high 38 points in the first half alone, including 17 in the second quarter alone where the Batang Pier picked up steam and stayed ahead the rest of the way.
The NBA G-League veteran out of Arkansas matched the whole Barangay’s output in that second period.
“I’m just trying to keep it rolling, stay proving myself, stay true to me and to the team. I know I gotta give what I gotta give to the team just to keep going,” said Qualls, who hit five treys and also collected 15 rebounds and four steals.
There were heroes aplenty in the win. Besides Qualls, NorthPort saw significant contributions from ex-Gin King Sol Mercado, the hot-shooting Garvo Lanete, and workhorse Christian Standhardinger — despite him being sick.
For Qualls, though, it is their desire to go all the way to the Big Dance — which the franchise hasn’t done — that fuels them.
“We don’t wanna stop here. We didn’t just wanna settle making the playoffs, we didn’t wanna settle for making to the quarters. We’re trying to go the whole way,” said the 25-year-old from Shreveport, Louisiana.
“It’s game by game.”
Momentum is now on the side of the Batang Pier following the huge win. Still, Qualls is in no mood to celebrate.
“We just gotta stay focused, bro. There’s no time to be happy about it,” said the three-year pro.
“We have another game in less than forty-eight hours. We just gotta be prepared. I know they’ll try to change their strategy a little bit, so we have to watch film and see what we can do a little better.”
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