NorthPort put a screeching halt to NLEX’s five-game winning streak, 102-94, to keep its playoff hopes beating in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup, Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Batang Pier overcame a sluggish start, then turned things around come the third canto. They rode that momentum en route to their fourth victory in six outings.
Import Michael Qualls filled the stat sheet with 36 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks in nearly 44 minutes of playing time to set the pace for NorthPort.
Christian Standhardinger had an impact in the win as well, falling just a rebound short of a 20-20 performance. He produced 23 points and 19 rebounds, while also collecting two assists and a steal.
Sean Anthony supplied 19 points, seven boards, three steals, two assists, and two steals for the Batang Pier, who have now tied the idle Columbian Dyip at seventh place in the team standings.
“It’s a total team effort. Players wanted to win this game kasi do-or-die game for us eh,” expressed coach Pido Jarencio. “Kung hindi (nanalo), wala na. Out na tayo for the conference.”
NorthPort saw itself down 6-18 at the start of the match, but it picked up steam afterwards. A Kevin Ferrer triple gave it its first taste of the lead, 76-73, with 3:10 to go in the third chapter.
The Batang Pier then got its groove. From a slim 83-81 lead early in the payoff period, Qualls spearheaded a 17-6 blitz for a 100-87 lead with 1:26 left to play to put the game away for good.
“First quarter, bad start. Pero pagdating ng second quarter, third, medyo gumanda na ‘yung takbo. And then naging consistent na kami,” Jarencio recalled.
Manny Harris had 34 points, eight rebounds, and three assists to lead NLEX, who fell to 8-2. They now also share the lead of the team standings with sister team Meralco Bolts.
Kiefer Ravena had 16 points, while JR Quiñahan chimed in 10 markers.
The loss spoiled the return of Kevin Alas after nine months on the sidelines due to an ACL injury.
NorthPort will next face Barangay Ginebra this Sunday, November 17, still at the Big Dome. Meanwhile, NLEX takes on Alaska next Wednesday, November 20, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
NorthPort 102 – Qualls 36, Standhardinger 23, Anthony 19, Ferrer 9, Elorde 7, Taha 4, Lanete 2, Mercado 2, King 0, Escoto 0.
NLEX 94 – Harris 34, Ravena 16, Quinahan 10, Erram 7, Cruz 7, Fonacier 6, Miranda 5, Paniamogan 4, Taulava 3, Soyud 2, Alas 0, Ighalo 0.
Quarterscores: 25-28, 43-51, 81-78, 102-94.
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