By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
GLOBALPORT Batang Pier showed grit and a lot of determination on Wednesday night to get back on the winning track in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup by defeating the defending champions San Miguel Beermen, 98-94, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Undermanned heading into the homestretch of the game, GlobalPort proved itself hard to handle nonetheless when it found its groove to improve to 4-4 in the tournament and stopped a two-game losing streak while sending the Beermen (3-4) to their first defeat in their last four matches in the midseason tournament.
San Miguel got off to good start against GlobalPort, racing to a 15-9 advantage in the opening seven minutes of the first quarter.
The Batang Pier though would keep itself in the game, narrowing the gap to 19-18 with 1:47 left on the clock.
June Mar Fajardo then led an 8-5 finish to the quarter to give the Beermen a 27-23 lead at the end of the opening 12 minutes.
San Miguel picked up where it left off at the end of the first canto, outgunning GlobalPort, 13-8, to extend their lead to nine points, 40-31, by the 6:18 mark of the second quarter.
Forward Sean Anthony would lead a charge back by the Batang Pier in the next five minutes to cut their deficit to one point, 45-44.
But the Beermen would eventually survive the onslaught of the Batang Pier, holding a 51-47 lead by the halftime break.
Much like in the second period, San Miguel would go on a fast start in the third canto.
It stretched its lead to 12 points, 71-59, midway into the quarter.
GlobalPort tried to claw its way back but San Miguel stayed on top of things, up, 79-71, heading into fourth period.
In the payoff quarter it was the Batang Pier’s turn to jump-start things, coming to within three points, 83-80, with 8:17 remaining in the game.
Just as the momentum started to build up for the Batang Pier, they saw their import Malcolm White ejected after incurring his second technical foul in the game.
But GlobalPort was undeterred by the absence of their import as it kept coming back, towed by Mo Tautuaa, Stanley Pringle and Nico Elorde.
The Batang Pier tied the count at 86-all with 5:14 to go on the game clock.
The two teams jockeyed for momentum thereafter, trying to gain the leverage as time wound up.
The score stood at 90-all entering the last two minutes.
Mr. Pringle gave the Batang Pier the lead, 92-90, with 1:50 left only to be answered by Mr. Fajardo 18 seconds later to level the count anew at 92-all.
Mr. Elorde then unleashed a huge three-pointer with 48 ticks to go to give GlobalPort a 95-92 lead, forcing the San Miguel to sue for time.
Mr. Balkman pushed the Beermen to within a point, 95-94, with 37 seconds remaining.
Mr. Tautuaa though gave GlobalPort more elbow room to work on with a basket with 19 seconds left.
It turned out to be a good enough distance for the Batang Pier en route to bagging the big win.
Mr. Pringle tallied 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists for GlobalPort while Mr. White finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds before being ejected.
Mr. Balkman had 33 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to lead San Miguel with Mr. Fajardo adding 20 points and Alex Cabagnot 19.
“We played together today, played with emotion. Our defense was key. We were able to stop the Beermen. Malcolm’s loss was big but we kept our focus and just played,” said player of the game Pringle after their win.
GlobalPort next plays on June 20 against the Phoenix Fuel Masters while San Miguel returns on June 16 against the TNT KaTropa.