Mar 24, 2019

Batang Pier use strong start to stun KaTropa, stay in playoff race

A LITTLE tweaking in its game gave NorthPort a new lease on life.

The Batang Pier turned off its self-destruct mode to waylay off-form TNT 109-83 Sunday and stay in the chase for slots in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Stanley Pringle bucked a gimpy ankle to finish with 27 points and nine rebounds in leading an attack that started gaining steam in the second quarter and went full throttle as the game wore on.

That was a stark departure from the way NorthPort virtually imploded during its sixgame slide and it was amply rewarded when it improved to a 3-6 record overall.

More victories over Alaska on Sunday and Barangay Ginebra on April 3 and the Batang Pier could at least clinch a tie for one of the three remaining quarterfinals slots.

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NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio has a slightly different view on what led to his team's losing skein.

"Talo naman namin nu'ng last five or six games, breaks of the game," said Jarencio.

"We're not making our shots, then forcing our shots. Tapos iyung kalaban naman nakaka-shoot, turnovers namin," he added.

"Ngayon naman, parang perfect game. First half hanggang second half finish strong talaga."

As a result, TNT's five-game winning streak was cut short and it wound up the eliminations with a 7-4 slate.

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Also going out the window were the KaTropa's hopes of forging a tie with Rain or Shine for the No. 2 spot, a scenario that dimmed long before NorthPort erected as much as a 109-78 spread.

"Players alam naman sitwasyon," said Jarencio. "Manalo kami tatlo... baka umabot sa playoffs. I hope magtuloy-tuloy na."

Pringle played his usual role as main man as he scored 10 of his points during the second period that saw NorthPort stretch a six-point lead at the end of the first frame to 53-26 before settling for a 53-31 cushion at the break.

TNT's most noteworthy stand came when it opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run to close in at 42-53.

Pringle, Sean Anthony, Mo Tautuaa and Jonathan Grey, along with Robert Bolick and Lervin Flores took turns restoring order within NorthPort, however, and the Batang Pier went into the final canto up 82-61.

Don Trollano's 15 points were enough to pace TNT as the likes of Roger Pogoy, Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario played below par.

Anthony bucked some early scoring struggles to wind up with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists with Paolo Taha, Tautuaa and Flores chipping in at least 11 points each.

Bolick only had eight points but did notch a gamehigh 12 rebounds and seven assists. (NC)

The scores:

NorthPort 109 - Pringle 27, Anthony 14, Tautuaa 13, Taha 13, Flores 11, Grey 9, Bolick 8, Elorde 8, Lanete 6, Guinto 0, Sollano 0.

TNT 83 - Trollano 15, Washington 13, Pogoy 10, Cruz 7, Reyes 7, Castro 7, Rosario 6, Miranda 6, Taha 5, Williams 4, Golla 2, Semerad 1, Heruela 0, Carey 0, Casino 0.

Quarters: 22-16, 53-31, 82-61, 109-83.