MANILA, Philippines – GlobalPort escaped Petron Blaze, 94-92, in Japeth Aguilar’s return to the PBA on Friday to kick off its PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Batang Pier, which played through without an import for majority of the second half, hung tough in the final minute, including a crucial stop with 1.8 seconds left.
“I begged the players to play defense and hang on to pull an upset,” said head coach Junel Baculi in the post-game presser.
Aguilar had 16 points and nine rebounds, but Gary David continued his hot scoring ways with a game-high 28 points.
The Boosters had two chances to snatch the game from the jaws of the defeat with the Batang Pier just up by a hairline.
Arwind Santos missed on a potential game winner with 9.4 seconds left, and Aguilar was there to haul down the board.
Fouled on the play, Aguilar just made one of two to give GlobalPort a precarious two-point lead, but Ronald Tubid’s final attempt off the inbound was foiled.
“It’s a good lucky win,” Baculi added as his import, Justin Williams was ejected with 8:18 left in the third quarter for elbowing JuneMar Fajardo in the face.
Williams added 18 points and 15 boards.
GlobalPort broke an 88-all deadlock on two freethrows by newly acquired Sol Mercado, who had 17 markers, with 2:59 to go. Aguilar canned two more charities to give them a 93-90 lead.
Batang Pier had a chance to stretch the Batang Pier’s lead, but David missed on a trey and David on the follow up.
Santos scored on a baseline jumper with 1:25 left to put the Boosters within two points, but that was their final output.
Renaldo Balkman was stellar in his debut with Petron with 23 points and 14 rebounds, along with six blocks but on a losing effort.