MANILA: GRACE B. CASTILLO
Published — Saturday 16 February 2013
Last update 15 February 2013 11:53 pm
Globalport fended off Barangay Ginebra and the Gin Kings’ never-say-die attitude last night, and the Batang Pier, just three games into their second PBA tournament, have already bettered their performance in the last tournament.
Getting off to a hot start, the Batang Pier went wire-to-wire in posting an 89-80 decision of the Kings and are again on the upper half of the leaderboard in the Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at the Araneta Coliseum.
Justin Williams scored 23 points, had the same number of boards and swatted away a night-high eight enemy attempts in a sterling performance that fired up the Batang Pier no end on the way to their second win in three matches.
In the Philippine Cup won by Talk ‘N Text just more than a month ago, the Batang Pier won just one of their 14 games before coming up with two blockbuster deals during the break to complete a formidable lineup.
Sol Mercado, an addition from Meralco, recorded his third straight double-double with 12 points and 13 assists, and Gary David was deadly as usual with 22 markers as Globalport pinned a second straight loss on struggling Ginebra.
The Gin Kings were led by the 22 points and 19 rebounds of Herbert Hill, but coaching staff and management have already made up their mind and will let Hill go in favor of Vernon Macklin.
Macklin, though, won’t be arriving until Sunday night, or until after the Gin Kings battle powerhouse Petron Blaze that same afternoon.
“It’s always tough playing Barangay Ginebra because of their never-say-die attitude,” Globalport coach Junel Baculi said. “But we also have our never quit spirit, and it showed when we lost a huge lead and they came within two (points).” The Batang Pier opened up with an 8-0 lead and were never really headed, and the only time that they were threatened in the third when Ginebra rallied from a 46-38 halftime deficit to within 47-45, David was there to bail them out with 10 third quarter points.
Mark Caguioa added 20 for the Kings and LA Tenorio was silenced the whole of the first half, scoring all of his eight points in the final two quarters.
The Tropang Texters barged into the win column earlier in the night after averting a collapse and salvaging an 86-83 victory over Air21.
Keith Benson had a crucial string of five straight points inside the final 1:20, capping a brilliant offensive night with a three-point play off Nino Canaleta that had the Texters coming out on top despite almost blowing an 18-point fourth quarter lead.
The Express fell behind by as many as 46-68 with just over two minutes left in the third only for Canaleta to rouse them back to life in the fourth with six triple conversions.
The former five-time winner of the Slam Dunk title actually finished with 23 points built around seven triples, but the Express simply couldn’t complete the rally with Bonbon Custodio missing the potential game-tying triple at the buzzer.
“It got a little scary in the end, we had the game under control but their small lineup got them back in the game,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black. “At this point, that’s all we really want, to pile up as many wins as we can.
“It was nice to win our first game and get the monkey off our backs,” added Black.
Meanwhile, the first import that was let go was actually San Mig Coffee’s Matt Rogers, who was given his walking papers hours after the defending champion Mixers lost for the second straight time.
In his place will come the youthful Denzel Bowles, who is expected to plane in also Sunday night and will see action on Friday against Rain or Shine.
Incidentally, the Elasto Painters shoot for their first win today when they slug it out with Meralco in a road game in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.