GlobalPort coach Pido Jarencio had kept track of all those failed tries in the past that he didn’t mince words in emphasizing how sweet this one was.
“I have had sleepless nights trying to figure out when this will come, when I can finally beat San Miguel Beer,” Jarencio said after his Batang Pier—importless in the last 8:09—eked out a 98-94 upset of the mighty Beermen in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
“It’s like what, four or five years already?” he asked in Filipino after unheralded Nico Elorde drained a triple with 48 seconds remaining that changed the complexion of a match the Beermen dominated for the most part. “This is the first time, and it really is a blessing.”
A blessing in the sense that it not only kept the Batang Pier in the middle of the pack with a 4-4 record, but it also gave them a solid shot at finishing from Nos. 3 to 6 for a level playing field in the first round of the playoffs.
With games against Phoenix Petroleum, Barangay Ginebra and Columbian coming to close out their classification round schedule, the Batang Pier gained a solid shot at what they are aiming for. A loss would have put them in a must-sweep scenario of those three games.
“That has been the target ever since the start (of the conference),” Jarencio said. “The win made our target realizable.”
The defending champions saw a three-game winning streak come to a halt and dropped to 3-4, their chances of finishing in the top two for a twice-to-beat advantage taking a huge hit as they can only finish with seven wins at most.
Magnolia climbed into a tie with GlobalPort after a 111-89 victory over TNT KaTropa in the nightcap.
The loss was the second in eight games for the Texters, which left idle Rain or Shine holding the solo lead and the side closest to the first top-two berth.
Another blessing that Jarencio said was evident in the win was that his locals showed that they can win without Malcolm White, who was canned after a second technical for second motion.
“It will work both ways,” Jarencio said. “First, the locals know that they can do it, and second, my import will know that he has to step up because he knows he has a supporting crew that can do his duties (in the game).”
White still went on to finish with 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Batang Pier, who got 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds from skipper Stanley Pringle, 11 points from Sean Anthony and sustained hustle underneath against the hulking San Miguel frontline from bruiser Kelly Nabong.
The biggest play, though, came from Elorde, who canned that triple after a pop-out pass from a driving Pringle that snapped the game’s last tie at 92 and sent the Batang Pier on their way to victory.
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