Jarencio lightens up Batang Pier mood amid playoff chase; Elite stay in quarterfinal hunt
With more than a minute remaining and victory against KIA in the bag last Wednesday night, GlobalPort coach Pido Jarencio gave Ryan Araña a free rein to call a play during a timeout, much to the surprise of the veteran forward.
Although Batang Pier guard Stanley Pringle scored on the next possession, the play designed by Araña wasn’t executed, drawing a laugh from Jarencio and his players.
In only his first conference in charge, the former UAAP champion coach of University of Santo Tomas has injected a light and positive atmosphere within the Batang Pier as they make a push for a playoff spot.
The Batang Pier went on to register a 108-91 victory over the Picanto as they stayed on track for a Top 6 finish at the end of the PBA Philippine Cup elimination round at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Coach is like a friend to us, but at the same time we give him the utmost respect,” Araña said in Filipino. “The atmosphere has been great whether we win or we lose. Every time we lose, he tells us to move forward and focus on the next game.”
Jarencio’s approach is paying dividends with the Batang Pier improving to 5-5 for a tie of sixth spot with Barangay Ginebra heading into their final game of the elimination round against Phoenix Petroleum on March 2.
“The mind-set right now is to try to get into that Top 6 so we will play a best-of-three series in the quarterfinals,” said Sean Anthony, who had 21 points, eight rebounds and four steals in 27 minutes on the floor. “We want to be playoff-ready and that Phoenix game is another playoff game.”
Later, Blackwater tightened up its defense down the stretch to close out the elimination round with an 83-78 trouncing of Phoenix Petroleum to keep its quarterfinal hopes alive.
Mike DiGregorio, Mac Belo and Raymar Jose each finished with 14 points, while JP Erram continued his stellar showing with 12 points and 19 boards for seventh double-double of the conference as the Elite wound up with a 5-6 record.
“We’re hoping that five wins will be enough for a playoff for the quarterfinals. We’re looking forward to playing more games this conference,” said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac.
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