by Jonas Terrado
Game Today (Quezon Convention Center, Lucena)
5 p.m. – Ginebra vs Rain or Shine
The third time was a charm for the NorthPort Batang Pier last night after avoiding another meltdown to beat the Meralco Bolts, 99-94, that kept alive their slim quarterfinal hopes in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Stanley Pringle and Sean Anthony hit two big threes in the final minute that kept the Batang Pier in safe territory after their 12-point lead in the third quarter was reduced to two twice in the fourth to seal a second straight win after a 0-6 start.
“At least back-to-back wins,” said NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio. “baka makahabol pa tayo sa last three games.”
NorthPort faces Rain or Shine (Oct. 17) and San Miguel Beer (Oct. 24) at the Cuneta Astrodome before wrapping up the elims against Alaska (Oct. 28) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Anthony produced 26 points, Pringle had 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists while import Rashad Woods redeemed himself from a scoreless first half to finish with 20 points.
Their productions enabled the Batang Pier to stay afloat after the Bolts sought to erase a 73-61 deficit in the third.
Meralco had pulled within 90-88 on two free throws by Chris Newsome with 2:00 left. But Mo Tautuaa hit a pair of charities before Pringle knocked down an elbow three, 57.6 left, for 95-88.
Bolts guard Mike Tolomia nailed a triple to give Meralco some life but Anthony responded with a trey from the right side with 24.0 remaining – the ball swinging from a doubled Woods on the left – that made it 98-91 for NorthPort.
Jarencio savored the win after losing big leads to the Blackwater Elite and TNT KaTropa earlier in the conference.
Reigning Best Import Allen Durham had 37 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists but the Bolts suffered their sixth straight loss to fall at 1-6, their chances at making the quarterfinals in jeopardy.
NorthPort 99 – Anthony 26, Pringle 24, Woods 20, Tautuaa 14, Elorde 4, Arana 4, Espinas 2, Gabayni 2, Javelona 2, Taha 1, Fortuna 0, Guinto 0, Grey 0.
Meralco 94 – Durham 37, Tolomia 18, Newsome 13, Hodge 12, Hugnatan 5, Salva 4, Canaleta 3, Caram 2, Lanete 0, Amer 0, Ballesteros 0, Atkins 0, Jamito 0.
Quarters: 22-21, 46-41, 74-69, 99-94.