December 15, 2019

Qualls says NorthPort shouldn't get carried away by Game 1 rout

NorthPort's stunning 124-90 demolition of Barangay Ginebra in Game 1 of the PBA Governors Cup semifinals - a new all-time high in winning margin for the franchise - was certainly a big confidence boost but the rampaging Batang Pier are in no mood to celebrate already.

"Ginebra is a great team and every team has its off night and I'm sure they're gonna come out with a vengeance and we have to be ready for that, everybody can win one game but it's a whole another challenge to win three games," said star big man Christian Standhardinger, bracing for a Ginebra fightback in Monday's Game 2.

Batang Pier import Michael Qualls, who banged in 28 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had four steals in the opening shocker, expressed the same sentiment.

"We just gotta stay focused, no time to be happy about it. We have another game in less than 48 hours, we have to come out prepared. I know they're gonna change their strategy a little bit so we gotta go watch film, see what we need to do better and maintain (what NorthPort is doing right)," said Qualls, who outplayed Ginebra counterpart Justin Brownlee (24-19)

The Batang Pier have picked up from where they left off in the elims and quarterfinals, where they hurdled four consecutive do-or-die matches. First, they stunned front-running NLEX, 102-94, and Ginebra, 98-96, to reach the Last-8 as the No. 8 seed then they toppled No. 1 NLEX twice, 115-90 and 126-123 in triple overtime for the right to face the Gin Kings. The crowd darlings advanced at the expense of grand-slam-seeking San Miguel.

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"I really think winning every game gave us a morale boost. We had four elimination games back-to-back so we had to win every single one. No real pressure, you know, we just wanna come out play as hard as we can and then we're gonna love with the results," said Qualls.

"I feel like we're playing hard so we bear the fruits of our labor," he added.

For Qualls, NorthPort should make the most of this golden opportunity to finally hit paydirt.

"We don't wanna stop here. You know we don't just wanna settle for making the playoffs, we definitely didn't want to settle for making it to the quarterfinals, you know, we wanna go the whole way, so it's game by game," he said. (OL)