ONE team seeks to move closer to a first ever finals stint in the PBA, while the other tries to bounce back and even up things.
That’s the exact scenario today as NorthPort guns for a 2-0 lead against an embattled Barangay Ginebra in the resumption of their best-of-5 semifinal series in the Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Batang Pier are playing in the semifinals for only the second time, their first stint being during the 2015-2016 Philippine Cup. However, they were beaten then by the Alaska Aces in the best-of-5 series.
Now, they have handsome chances of even getting closer to first ever finals stint since joining the league in 2012, after they shocked the Gin Kings in Game 1 last Saturday, 124-90, in a crucial headstart that saw five of Batang Pier finish in twin-digit scores.
They were import Michael Qualls, Garvo Lanete, Christian Standhardinger, Sol Mercado and Sean Anthony. Qualls led the scoring with 38 points while pulling down 15 rebounds.
In contrast, only Justin Brownlee and Stanley Pringle managed to finish in double-digits for Ginebra, with the former knocking down 24 points and latter adding 21 against his former team.
The Gin Kings were in the game only in the first quarter, but the Batang Pier soon pulled away and established a 78-68 lead at the turn.
“It was a very ugly performance, it’s embarrassing,” rued Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
“They wanted it more than we did and one of the worst first games I’ve been been involved with,” added Cone.
The Gin Kings, four of them still fresh from a successful campaign in the SEA Games together with Cone himself, are veterans of countless playoff battles, hence the Batang Pier ought to expect a tough outing when they meet in Game 2 at 7 p.m. today.
“They beat us in all facets of the game so we gotta come back better the next time,” said Cone.
Coach Pido Jarencio though is not taking thing to chances, knowing full well the kind of opponent Ginebra is.
“Maybe we just caught Ginebra on an off night, maybe we benefited more from the long break,” said Jarencio.
“But you could see we’re the hungrier team and we executed our game plan well, especially on defense,” added Jarencio.
Standhardinger had his own double-double outing with 16 points and 15 boards, and there’s the NorthPort bench overwhelming their Ginebra counterparts.
Garvo Lanete and Sol Mercado led the charge of the NorthPort reserves, delivering a combined output of 38 markers, including nine hits from the three-point land.