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December 15, 2019

Fired-up Batang Pier seek 2-0 lead versus Gin Kings

In a previous breakthrough, NorthPort cracked the PBA Final Four for the first time with a shocker over Barangay Ginebra.

The Batang Pier now look at a loftier goal. And to achieve the target, NorthPort must once again pull the rug from under Ginebra.

One game down, and two to go, the fired-up Batang Pier push their aspiration in Game Two of their PBA Governors Cup best-of-five semifinal showdown with the Gin Kings at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Monday.

On Saturday, Ginebra coach Tim Cone's worry had proven right, with the Batang Pier coming out from a long breather well prepared for the series opener.

Looking always a step ahead, the Batang Pier crushed the Kings, 124-90, for the crucial head start in the series.

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"For teams in the semis, it seems like a long time between games but for Ginebra, it seems like a really quick turnaround," said Cone on the eve of the series opener.

Cone and Ginebra aces Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio and Stanley Pringle were then barely off from their SEAG duties.

The question now is whether a day preparation enough for Cone and the Kings to shake off the Game One blowout and be ready for a Game Two turnaround.

In barely making the Final Four with four straight wins in do-or-die matches, the Batang Pier definitely have nothing to lose but everything to gain in their face-off with the Kings.

And they're raring to push their bid.

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On Saturday, things became a lot easier for NorthPort as Michael Qualls came out as his usual prolific self, Christian Standhardinger was Mr. Do It All as usual and the NP shock-troopers stood their ground against their Ginebra counterparts.

The Batang Pier fired on all cylinders and blew past the Kings for only their second win in PBA Final Four matches.

In their previous semis stint versus Alaska Milk in the 2015-16 Philippine Cup, the Batang Pier went down to a 1-4 loss to the Alaska Milk Aces.

The Batang Pier are now about to celebrate just yet.

"Maybe we just caught Ginebra on an off night, maybe we benefited more from the long break. But you could see we're the hungrier team and we executed our game plan well, especially on
defense," said NP coach Pido Jarencio.

The Batang Pier made the stops, and made their shots as highlighted by their 19-of-40 three-point shooting as against the Kings' 10-of-32 clip.

But the Batang Pier are not looking far ahead, knowing it's just one game. (SB)