Northport coach Pido Jarencio hurled a challenge to Rashad Woods following a listless first half by the import against Meralco yesterday, and the latter came alive in the second half to help the Batang Pier complete a 99-94 win, their second straight in the PBA Governors Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After launching and missing all his four shots in the first half, Woods wound up with 20 points to complement Sean Anthony's 26 points and Stanley Pringle's 24.
Mo Tautuaa added 14 points and eight rebounds as NorthPort followed up its 118-101 victory over Columbian, and improved to a 2-6 slate overall.
More wins in their three remaining elimination round assignments against Rain or Shine, San Miguel Beer, and Alaska, and the Batang Pier could even realize a finish among the top eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals.
The loss was Meralco’s sixth straight against a lone win as it dropped to 10th and its own bid of advancing now greatly jeopardized.
To avoid an early exit from the tournament where they wound up second the last two seasons, the Bolts must win their last four games against NLEX, Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok, Rain or Shine, and SMB.
Allen Durham turned in his usual workmanlike effort with 37 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists, Mike Tolomia came off the bench for 18 points, Chris Newsome notched 13 markers, and Cliff Hodge chipped in 12 points and 11 boards.
Yet the Bolts once again found themselves unable to hold on to an early 10-0 lead and also failed to come up with that sorely needed finishing kick.
After trailing by as much as 69-82, Meralco came charging back to threaten within 91-95, still 45 ticks left.
Coming off a timeout and a broken play, Anthony capped his gamelong brilliance by booming in a buzzer-beating triple that practically sealed it for NorthPort 98-91, only 17 seconds to go.
SAN MIGUEL TRIUMPHS
San Miguel Beer, meanwhile, regained its bearing nearing the playoffs, snapping a three-game losing skein with an emphatic 117-100 win over Phoenix Petroleum, at the MOA Arena in Pasay City last night.
“We just showed San Miguel is a playoff team," said Marcio Lassiter, who along with Christian Standhardinger, stepped up to help Kevin Murphy get the team on track.
“San Miguel will be ready when the playoffs come," said Standhardinger, coming through with 29 points and 14 rebounds in a battle with Phoenix super import Eugene Phelps.
In the fourth quarter, the Beermen worked hard together to spark a breakaway en route to improving their record to 3-4 at eighth place.
The Fuel Masters, meanwhile, dropped to 6-3 after the game marred by a flagrant infraction by SMB import Kevin Murphy in an incident with Calvin Abueva late in the game.
Phoenix coach Louie Alas, team manager Paolo Bugia and player Doug Kramer drew technical fouls for leaving their bench during the commotion.
Murphy sat out the last 4:11 of play and settled for a 26-point output after two huge productions that both went for naught.
The former Utah Jazz finally nailed a first win in the PBA while drawing tremendous support from Standhardinger and Lassiter.
The SMB rifleman hit timely three-pointers and finished with 26 markers on top of eight assists and six rebounds.
“I'm just helping out space the floor. Fortunately, my teammates found me tonight. You play together and good things happen," said Lassiter.
Alex Cabagnot (with 12 points) and Arwind Santos (with 10) were two other players who put in double-digit outputs for the Beermen who continue to await the return of injury-hit main man June Mar Fajardo.
With another monstrous game from Phelps, the Fuel Masters fought the Beermen to a tough battle before fading away in the final canto.
With one of his five triples in the night, Lassiter ignited a decisive run that opened a 15-point spread for the Beermen at 92-77.
Then from the 92-82 count, the Beermen worked on another key assault to take the fight out of the Fuel Masters.*pba.ph
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