Sustaining their effort late in the game proved to be key for the Columbian Dyip, which overhauled an early deficit against NorthPort to bounce back with a 114-108 win in the PBA Governors' Cup on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
CJ Perez scored 14 of his 26 points in the third quarter, where the Dyip outscored the Batang Pier 38-25 on their way to their second win of the conference. Khapri Alston added 25 points on 9-for-19 shooting to go along with 17 boards, while Rashawn McCarthy ended up with 18.
The Dyip were able to flip the script after the halftime break, where they slowly erased an 11-point hole at the start off the third. Perez heated up and later conspired with Khapri Alston, who hit two free throws to help the team go up 76-74 midway, before letting McCarthy score five in an 8-2 run that gave them an 84-76 advantage.
NorthPort did not go down easily and trailed by just two, 97-95, after a Kevin Ferrer triple at the 8:03 mark, but the Dyip answered through a triple from Eric Camson and an Alston floater to hike their advantage at 108-99.
Columbian, though, was not able to cruise and had to do some cleaning up in the final minute, where they shut the door on a comeback attempt even after committing two costly turnovers and allowing NorthPort to come to within four, 112-108, in the final 24 seconds.
"The game was close again, but this time we ended up winning," said coach Johnedel Cardel. "This time at least going into the last part, into the fourth quarter, we sustained even if we had two errors. But we sustained. We didn't give up. That's the bottom line there. We bounced back."
His side improved to 2-1 -- a massive improvement from a 1-21 record in the past two editions of the season-ending conference -- but they had to buck a slow start and a lot of defensive lapses in the first half, where they allowed Bolick to dice them for 15 quick points.
"During the first quarter I told my boys, 'What happened? What happened to our practice? What happened to our tendencies, our defense?' Bolick kept going right because he had a strong right, and I told them, 'Are you kidding me? If you wanna win going into the second and third quarter, we have 24 more minutes,'" Cardel said.
NorthPort dropped to 1-2 but saw encouraging efforts from Bolick, who finished with 23 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, and Mo Tautuaa, who added a 22-point, 14-rebound double-double.
Next on the Dyip's schedule are KJ McDaniels and the TNT KaTropa, who are currently unbeaten in two games.
"Before going into this game, I told the boys at the huddle we need to beat this team if we want to go to the quarterfinals. Because heading into Saturday's game, TNT has a strong import. At least we're going there with a winning attitude. At least we have a chance and the character of the players are high," said Cardel.
COLUMBIAN 114 - Perez 26, Alston 25, McCarthy 18, Camson 14, Khobuntin 11, Tiongson 6, Celda 5, Calvo 3, Cahilig 2, Faundo 2, Gabayni 2, Corpuz 0, Flores 0.
NORTHPORT 108 - Bolick 23, Tautuaa 22, Lanete 19, Ammons 15, Ferrer 11, Escoto 7, Elorde 5, Cruz 4, Mercado 2, Taha 0, King 0.
Quarters: 22-30; 52-60; 90-85; 114-108.
- Jackson Corpuz returned from a partial meniscus tear he suffered months ago, but played seven scoreless minutes for Columbian. "He's not a hundred percent yet because I still see some hesitation during practice," said Cardel. "I told him I'll use him here this game for a bit and when I see the aggressiveness on Thursday and Friday practices, I'll use him again. He accepted."
- The Dyip lost another body, though, after Glenn Khobuntin exited the third quarter after banging knees with Tautuaa. He will undergo MRI testing Thursday morning. "I'm worried about that because he's my stopper. Defends four-guys, two-guys, one-guys. He's a big loss if he's not able to play for this coming TNT game on Saturday," his coach said.
- NorthPort's Nico Elorde got married to former courtside reporter Mich del Carmen Tuesday, but the couple postponed their honeymoon for a bit. The two had been together for 11 years before tying the knot. "It's work. I need to help the team as much as I can. Too bad we just fell short tonight. We'll hold our honeymoon after the conference," said the guard, who finished with five points and three assists in 12 minutes.
- NorthPort vs. Blackwater on Oct. 5 at the Ynares Center-Antipolo
- Columbian vs. TNT on Oct. 5 at the Ynares Center-Antipolo