NorthPort used a big second half to crush whatever playoff hopes an import-less Rain or Shine has, 113-97, to fan its own chances in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup, Saturday evening at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The Batang Pier began to garner steam in the third quarter behind Kevin Murphy before sprinting away in the final chapter, eventually chalking up their third win to, more importantly, stay alive in the race to the quarterfinals.
“Actually going into the game, we’re not thinking of getting into the quarterfinals, although we have a slim chance for the quarters,” said interim head coach Bonnie Tan, whose side improved to 3-8. “Gusto lang namin manalo.”
Murphy led the way with 39 points — 13 all in the third — on a new franchise-record 10 three-pointers, alongside 13 rebounds and five assists.
Paul Zamar would back up the gunslinging import with a career second-best 20 points, which is also his best performance in a NorthPort uniform.
The two connived for the Batang Pier’s 10-2 start into the fourth quarter to turn a slim three-point lead to 90-79, a run that would mark the start of a blowout as the rest of the squad went on to help pound their foes.
JM Calma finished with his own double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Robert Bolick and Jeff Chan scored 11 apiece as well, while Arwind Santos chimed in 10 markers in his best game yet since coming back.
NorthPort will face current leader TNT (8-1) after the All-Star break on March 15, which it would need to win and hope for Phoenix (4-6) to lose to Meralco on Sunday to forge a playoff for the no. 8 spot in the quarters.
The Batang Pier mauled an Elasto Painters side that opted to play with an all-Filipino lineup as it could no longer find an import due to time constraints.
Santi Santillan led RoS with 17 points and seven rebounds in the loss, their fourth in a row that also formally ousted the team from contention.
The wards of Coach Yeng Guiao (2-8) can only finish the season strong against San Miguel on March 17 in the final day of the eliminations.
NorthPort (113) –– Murphy 39, Zamar 20, Bolick 11, Calma 11, Santos 10, Chan 8, Salado 5, Taha 2, Balagasay 2, Munzon 2, Ayaay 0.
Rain or Shine (97) — Santillan 17, Asistio 14, Demusis 14, Mamuyac 12, Caracut 8, Norwood 7, Borboran 7, Nambatac 5, Torres 5, Belga 5, Ponferrada 1, Ildefonso 0, Clarito 0.
Quarterscores: 28-23; 53-52; 80-77; 113-97.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.