MANILA - NorthPort Batang Pier claimed a spot in the quarterfinals of the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup after escaping with a narrow 98-96 victory over Barangay Ginebra, Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Big shots by Paolo Taha and Christian Standhardinger in the end game, along with some crucial stops by the Batang Pier, propelled them to their fifth win in six games. The result also formally eliminated Rain or Shine from the quarterfinals race, just hours after the Elasto Painters knocked off Meralco in a bid to stay alive.
"A win is a win. One point, two points, three points," said NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio afterward. "Basta kami, blessing na nanalo. At least we're in the quarters. I give it to the players, gusto nila eh."
Michael Qualls led the way for NorthPort with 30 points and 13 rebounds, while Standhardinger had 17 points and 11 boards for his own double-double. Sean Anthony had 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
It was a hard-earned win for the Batang Pier, who trailed 83-79 with over 8 minutes left after a three-pointer by Stanley Pringle. But they answered with a 14-4 run to take the lead, 93-87, with Standhardinger and Qualls leading the fightback.
Ginebra got to within a point, 93-92, thanks to Pringle who completed an and-1 then assisted on a Japeth Aguilar bucket. But Taha got a layup of his own, before Anthony found Standhardinger in transition for the basket that made it 97-92 with just 2:46 left.
Jumpers by Justin Brownlee and LA Tenorio kept the Gin Kings alive, but they could not execute in the closing minute of the game. Aguilar fumbled a shot off a Tenorio pass, and Brownlee also missed a midrange attempt in their final possession. Taha secured the ball and converted one of two free throws to peg the final score.
Ginebra had one last chance to steal the win, but Jeff Chan's triple was off the mark as time expired.
"Ang hirap kalaban ng Ginebra," said Jarencio. "Naka-breaks of the game tayo."
Ginebra finished the elimination round with a 7-4 win-loss slate. They are already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, regardless of the defeat.
Brownlee finished with 31 points and 9 rebounds, while Pringle had 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists against his former team. Tenorio put up 15 points, 7 boards, and 4 dimes.
NorthPort 98 - Qualls 30, Anthony 18, Standhardinger 17, Ferrer 11, Taha 7, Cruz 6, Lanete 5, Mercado 2, Elorde 2, King 0.
Ginebra 96 - Brownlee 31, Pringle 18, Tenorio 15, Aguilar 14, Thompson 7, Chan 4, Dela Cruz 4, Devance 3, Mariano 0, Caperal 0.
Quarterscores: 20-29, 51-52, 75-73, 98-96.