Still in the playoff race
About 17 kilometers south of his location, Pido Jarencio’s old college squad had just won a third straight do-or-die game to make it to the championship.
The stakes may not have been as high, but Jarencio, the former University of Santo Tomas player and coach, led his NorthPort squad to what he calls a no-tomorrow win of its own.
“This was a do-or-die game for us,” said Jarencio moments after the Batang Pier stunned a streaking NLEX Road Warriors, 102-94, on Wednesday night to stay in the playoff race for the PBA Governors’ Cup.
“It was a total team effort,” added Jarencio.
Michael Qualls spearheaded NorthPort’s bid at Smart Araneta Coliseum, finishing with 36 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
The Batang Pier improved to 4-7 to collar Columbian Dyip at seventh place, still inside the circle of eight teams that will make the playoffs, a berth they can seal with a victory over powerhouse Barangay Ginebra on Sunday.
“We had a bad start but the players really wanted to win this game,” said Jarencio, who wished his college team good luck before it played University of the Philippines in a knockout match at Mall of Asia Arena also on Wednesday. “Things became better for us in the second and third quarters.
NLEX dropped just its second game in 10 assignments and had little at stake for the squad, which already has twice-to-beat protection in the semifinals.
Manny Harris, who went off to a scorching start that had NorthPort trailing by 15 early, finished with 34 points to lead NLEX, which welcomed back guard Kevin Alas from a long layoff due to an ACL injury.
Kiefer Ravena added 16 points for the Road Warriors, who saw their five-game win run halted.
Christian Standhardinger also came up huge for NorthPort, knocking down 23 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. Sean Anthony added 19.
Another former UST Tiger, Kevin Ferrer, added nine points including timely shots that helped fuel the Batang Pier’s rally.
In the other game, the Alaska Aces also kept their gasping bid alive by edging the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 105-102.