Trade makes its mark
When NorthPort shipped star Stanley Pringle to Barangay Ginebra, everyone was talking about how the talented playmaker would add to the Gin Kings’ firepower.
Well, that trade worked for the players on the other end of the deal, too.
The Batang Pier, getting a big lift from its new acquisitions, played with sustained brilliance to topple Blackwater, 127-99, and take a share of the lead in the PBA Commissioner Cup in a Petron Saturday Special at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
Kevin Ferrer, Jervy Cruz and Sol Mercado—NorthPort’s haul from the Pringle swap—provided more than just additional warm bodies for the injury-stricken Batang Pier. They combined for 53 points as NorthPort sealed a seventh win in eight outings to tie TNT on top.
The victory has serious playoff implications for the Batang Pier, who can wall themselves inside a twice-to-beat shelter in the first round of the playoffs.
The win also disproves—for now, at least—the contention that NorthPort got the raw end of the trade with Ginebra.
“[T]hey say that the trade was one-sided because they see Stanley as one of the best guards,” said the veteran Mercado, who finished with 14 points. “He puts up 30 a game or whatever. But what they don’t realize is that at Ginebra, we make a lot of sacrifices. Me, Kevin, Jervy—we made a lot of sacrifices for the benefit of the team.”
“People don’t understand. It’s not that we can’t play this style of game. Obviously, Stanley here had the ball in his hands. At Ginebra it’s not gonna happen. He’s gotta make sacrifices as well if they want to win. So he’s not gonna average 30 points a game.”
Ferrer finished with 23 points to lead seven NorthPort players in double figures as the team crept closer to a top-two finish and crucial quarterfinal protection.
“Our goal is to be on top and give ourselves a chance at getting that twice-to-beat advantage,” coach Pido Jarencio said.
Blackwater played without an import as the replacement for Alex Stepheson, Jameel McKay, has yet to complete his clearance requirements.
Later in the evening, Magnolia turned back Phoenix, 99-96, for a third straight victory.
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