GlobalPort ends Ginebra miracle run
WHAT looked like a charmed Barangay Ginebra run in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup ended Sunday night.
The underdog GlobalPort Batang Pier gave the crowd-favorite Gin Kings a dose of their own medicine by scrambling to forge overtime before hacking out an 84-83 decision that knocked out the league’s most popular club from the semifinals of the season’s opening conference.
It will be the first semifinal appearance for GlobalPort, which joined the league in the 2012-1013 season after taking over the franchise of the Powerade Tigers. Waiting for the Batang Pier in the Final Four, tentatively scheduled to start on Jan. 4, are the Alaska Aces, who were ranked No. 1 in the eliminations over the San Miguel Beermen.
The Beermen’s semifinal foe will be either Rain or Shine or TNT which were still playing in a knockout game at press time last night.
The semifinal duels are best-of-seven affairs.
It took some time before Ginebra coach Tim Cone backed down from his protestations over the way GlobalPort hung on to protect the one-point win in the last eight seconds. Stanley Pringle received the inbound and kept possession for good despite the Ginebra double-team.
Pringle had earlier issued the pass that Billy Mamaril turned into the overtime-sealing basket at 74-all, and the Batang Pier took the lead for good as Terrence Romeo and Pringle delivered the first five points of extra time, 79-74.
Ginebra’s fury was understandable considering how it survived its last game—also in extra time after a mighty rally from 18 points down in the last quarter and from eight in the last minute of regulation. The loser was Ginebra’s sister team Star, which looked headed to wiping out a twice-to-beat edge by the Gin Kings until the massive collapse by the Hotshots. Star did figure in a memorable duel of three-pointers with Ginebra in overtime until Sol Mercado and LA Tenorio combined to seal the win.
Before Ginebra’s miraculous escape over Star, GlobalPort had earlier ousted Barako Bull, 94-85. Then Rain or Shine and Talk ‘N Text won the other quarterfinal pairings the next day with the Painters applying the boot on the Blackwater Elite, 95-90, and Texters eliminating the NLEX Road Warriors, 90-88.
After a 1-3 start, the Gin Kings finished No. 4 in the eliminations at 7-4 behind Rain or Shine. Two of the wins came when Mahindra blew two free throws with just seconds left and when NLEX muffed what could have been the winning undergoal stab in the dying moments of play.
* * *
Luck played a vital role when Miguel Tabuena fulfilled the promise he showed in capturing a silver medal in the Asian Games as a 17-year-old amateur in 2010 by ruling the 98th Philippine Open at Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac last week.
Had the tournament serving as the final leg of the 2015 Asian Tour started as scheduled Thursday, Tabuena would have missed it because he was still feeling weak after a bout with the flu. But the first round was scrapped because the Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed course was not in shape due to bad weather caused by Typhoon “Nona.” And the one-day reprieve gave Tabuena additional rest and the chance to pull off the biggest achievement of his young pro career.
With rounds of 66-67-69 for what became a 54-hole event, Tabuena, now 21, won his country’s national championship for his first Asian Tour title by one stroke over Australian Scott Barr. Tabuena actually trailed Barr with two holes left, but the Australian failed to clear the lagoon guarding the long par-3 17th hole and needed a birdie on the last to salvage second place alone.
The victory capped a season-long brilliance by Tabuena, who also dominated the local tour with three victories, including one over the same Luisita course where he set the course record of 22-under-par several months ago. It was also the first Filipino triumph at the Open since Angelo Que prevailed at Wack Wack in 2008.