Knowing how pivotal this bout is, the NorthPort Batang Pier played their best all-around game of the season, downing the Alaska Aces, 94-84, Wednesday evening at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Batang Pier coughed up an 11-point lead as the Aces scored 14 straight to take a 74-71 lead early in the final frame. But Sean Anthony and Stanley Pringle linked up and led a 19-4 rally for a 90-78 lead with 2:33 left to seal the deal.
Anthony had 24 points and 17 rebounds. Pringle made 21 markers, including 12 in the fourth quarter alone.
“Exceptional yung dalawa,” lauded Batang Pier head coach Pido Jarencio. “Talagang yung players, they want to win. The players really want to make a name for themselves — do-or-die game tapos nanalo. This is all the players.”
Mo Tautuaa had 14 points, nine rebounds, and five assists, while Jonathan Grey had 13 in the conquest.
NorthPort improved to 4-6 and are currently at seventh in the standings. They are now assured of at least a playoff for the eighth and last spot, which will likely commence on the first week of April.
But the Batang Pier will first play the Barangay Ginebra next Wednesday, April 3, before fully minding the playoffs.
Carl Bryan Cruz had 23 points – 13 in the first half alone – along with six rebounds, an assist, and a block to lead Alaska.
The Aces have lost their second game in a row and are down to 4-7. On the other hand, the Milkmen are currently ninth in the standings.
Sonny Thoss had 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Simon Enciso supplied 11 markers and five dimes.
NorthPort 94 – Anthony 24, Pringle 21, Tautuaa 14, Grey 13, Flores 6, Taha 6, Bolick 3, Guinto 3, Elorde 2, Sollano 2, Lanete 0.
Alaska 84 – Cruz 23, Thoss 14, Enciso 11, Banchero 8, Pascual 8, Ayaay 6, Casio 5, Baclao 3, Teng 2, Galliguez 2, Racal 2, Exciminiano 0.
Quarterscores: 16-19, 40-37, 71-60, 94-84.