NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio didn't hide his joy when he faced the press on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. He was all smiles while answering each question after Batang Pier broke out of its six-game slump.
The 109-83 drubbing of the TNT KaTropa means NorthPort remains in the hunt for a playoff berth even with a 3-6 record. This win also meant the Rain or Shine sealed the No. 2 seed that comes with a twice-to-beat incentive in the playoffs.
"I missed you guys," said Jarencio as the press room erupted in laughter.
Stanley Pringle led NorthPort with 27 points, built on four 3-pointers, to go with nine rebounds, and two assists.
Batang Pier did not play poorly during their losing streak, but struggled to close out and lost five games by no more than five points.
Against TNT, however, Batang Pier didn't need to close out as it led from start to finish. Things really got going in the second period, where they torched the KaTropa, 31-15, to wrap up the first half with a commanding 53-31 lead.
"We were hitting shots tonight that we couldn't in the last five or six games. Everything seemed perfect from the get-go," said Jarencio, whose team shot 75 percent from the field in the second period.
The KaTropa mounted a brief comeback in the third period after holding the Batang Pier scoreless in the first three minutes and going on an 11-0 tear bring the gap to 53-42. But things went downhill again soon for TNT as Batang Pier responded and restored their lead to 71-50 with 4:47 remaining.
TNT wrapped up its elimination round with a 7-4 record. Don Trollano paced the team with 15 points, while Jay Washington had 13 points and five rebounds.
NorthPort 109 - Pringle 27, Anthony 14, Tautuaa 13, Taha 13, Flores 11, Grey 9, Bolick 8, Elorde 8, Lanete 6, Guinto 0, Sollano 0.
TNT 83 - Trollano 15, Washington 13, Pogoy 10, Cruz 7, Reyes 7, Castro 7, Rosario 6, Miranda 6, Taha 5, Williams 4, Golla 2, Semerad 1, Heruela 0, Carey 0, Casino 0.
Quarterscores: 22-16, 53-31, 82-61, 109-83.
- Lervin Flores posted a career-high 11 points. His highlight came in the 4:10 mark of the third period when he completed a three-point play off a broken play to give NorthPort a 74-51 lead.
- Mo Tautuaa fell on his rear after driving against Yousef Taha, who turned his back on the former in midair, with the scores already beyond reach. But the NorthPort big man said he was fine, "It's OK. I mean I work out a lot so I got a good enough butt to take the fall. Right now it's OK."
NorthPort - vs Alaska on March 27 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum