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A free ride

NorthPort stuns TNT to stay in the hunt while handing Rain or Shine quarterfinal bonus on a silver platter; San Miguel triumphs
/ 05:08 AM March 25, 2019

NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio knows how to talk his players into giving it their all.

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“I told them: ‘Legends are made when their team is down,’” Jarencio said in Filipino as his Batang Pier responded in spades to his motivational pregame talk to totally crush TNT KaTropa, 109-83, in the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.

“That’s our situation right now. We want to make a name for ourselves,” Jarencio added, unmindful of the fact that his crew has a thin chance of making it past the elimination round.

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The Batang Pier cranked it up in the middle two quarters, opening up a 27-point lead behind Stanley Pringle and do-it-all forward Sean Anthony.

The duo combined for 41 points.

TNT closed out its elimination round stint at 7-4 like San Miguel Beer, which hammered Alaska, 114-96, in the nightcap.

Alex Cabagnot led five other Beermen in double figures with 31 points as the reigning five-time champions dealt the Aces their sixth loss in 10 games.

NorthPort led by as large as 30 points as TNT, which came into the game seeking to extend a five-game winning streak, bombed out of the race for a twice-to-beat privilege in the first round of the playoffs.

NorthPort’s win also gave idle Rain or Shine a free ride as far as the quarterfinal bonus is concerned as it booted Barangay Ginebra out of the race even if the Gin Kings can tie the Elasto Painters at 8-3 for the second best record.

The Batang Pier rose to 3-6 after snapping a six-game losing streak and would need nothing less than victories in their last two games to stay in the running.

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Ginebra, which is at 6-3, will lose in the tiebreak even if it catches Rain or Shine in second spot. The Elasto Painters own an 83-80 victory over the Gin Kings in their only elimination round clash.

“Our last six losses all boiled down on the breaks of the game,” Jarencio said. “But this time, it’s like we played a perfect game. From first half all the way to the second.”

“We really finished strong,” he added. “The players knew that our backs are against the wall.”

NorthPort, which started the tournament with two straight wins before that six-game slide, still has to play Alaska and Ginebra.

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