NorthPort is a game away from throwing out the NLEX Road Warriors’ twice-to-beat edge with a huge 115-90 win in an emotional 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinal encounter, Monday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The eighth-seeded Batang Pier were quick to impose their presence right from the get-go. They then cruised to the 26-point victory that not only extends the series but also keeps their season alive.
“We just came out strong, aggressive, full of energy. ‘Yun lang. Ayaw magbakasyon ng mga players. They want to be in the playoffs, sa semis,” said coach Pido Jarencio.
“Pero hindi pa naman tapos.”
Still, they first had to endure emotions late in the game as things got ugly with 4:54 remaining.
It all started when import Michael Qualls attacked the rim and inadvertently landed on the chest of Paul Varilla. The latter clearly took issue with the incident, as he came charging towards the lanky American.
Poy Erram then came into the defense of Varilla, swinging his arm and catching Qualls’ nape. Varilla, meanwhile, pushed Christian Standhardinger down while the Fil-German center tried to contain the situation.
Cooler heads fortunately, prevailed and Erram and Varilla were assessed with flagrant foul penalty two, leading to their ejection. The Batang Pier were awarded six free throws that pushed their lead to 100-81.
“Temper ‘di mawawala, nagkakasakitan eh. Physical game. Sabi ko sa kanila, physical game ‘to, playoff mode. Kaya ready tayo. Kung ayaw niyo masaktan, mag-chess na lang tayo,” Jarencio said.
Qualls powered NorthPort with a game-high 39 points — including the floater that gave his side its biggest lead, 79-53, in the third canto. He also had 16 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and a steal.
Standhardinger contributed 24 markers, 13 boards, and three assists in over 39 minutes in the blowout.
On the other hand, JR Quiñahan made 20 points to lead NLEX.
Kiefer Ravena supplied 16 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Meanwhile, the high-scoring import Manny Harris got limited to just 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting in the humiliating defeat.
The Road Warriors have now lost their third game in a row dating back to the eliminations. The skid started when they bowed to the very same team last November 13.
The deciding match will be on Wednesday, November 27, still at the Big Dome. The winner will face Justin Brownlee and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the best-of-five semifinals.
NorthPort 115 – Qualls 39, Standhardinger 24, Anthony 12, Ferrer 9, King 8, Escoto 5, Taha 5, Elorde 5, Lanete 3, Cruz 3, Mercado 2.
NLEX 90 – Quinahan 20, Ravena 16, Harris 12, Cruz 11, Erram 6, Soyud 6, Alas 5, Paniamogan 4, Varilla 3, Galanza 3, Ighalo 2, Miranda 2, Fonacier 0.
Quarterscores: 34-24, 61-40, 83-64, 115-90.