Getting its groove in the second period, NorthPort kept its iron grip on the lead and never let go the rest of the way for a 124-90 win over Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
The Batang Pier dealt damage from inside and out, all thanks to import Michael Qualls’ bruising presence and Garvo Lanete’s pinpoint shooting that gave Pido Jarencio’s crack crew a crucial 1-0 head start in the race-to-three series.
“Perhaps we just caught Ginebra on their off night,” coach Pido Jarencio said. “Though tonight saw a well-executed game plan [from us], especially on defense.”
Indeed, the defense was impeccable. NorthPort held the crowd darlings to just 19 points in the second quarter for a 51-39 lead at the half.
Qualls was at the forefront of that assault and eventually finished with 38 points to go with15 rebounds. Lanete chipped in 24 built on six triples, including one late in the third quarter that stemmed a Ginebra uprising.
The Gin Kings again got the goods from Justin Brownlee, who had 24 points and 19 rebounds. Stanley Pringle tossed 21 more.
Barangay Ginebra looked like it barely had enough to keep in step with No. 8 seed NorthPort until coming to life late in the third, when the Gin Kings came to within 62-61. But with Nico Elorde and Lanete contributing to a key run, the Batang Pier went ahead by 10 entering the fourth and kept padding the lead from thereon.
Christian Standhardinger, who Jarencio felt was still trying to regain his bearings after his Gilas stint at the Southeast Asian Games, still managed 16 points even as Sol Mercado had 14 and Sean Anthony tossed in 11 more for the Batang Pier.
But such a victory—one that set a new franchise record in terms of winning margin—should be quickly forgotten, according to Jarencio.
“[Ginebra coach] Tim Cone? He will adjust,” the animated mentor said. “So I’m going to watch the tape and look at what they could adjust on.”
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