No. 8 seed NorthPort Batang Pier advanced to the PBA Governors' Cup semifinals after knocking off the top-seeded NLEX Road Warriors 126-123 in triple overtime Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. The win marks NorthPort's fourth-straight victory, all in elimination games.
NorthPort's Sean Anthony nailed in the go-ahead layup with 12.3 seconds left, putting his side ahead, 124-123.
Even though they had a timeout, NLEX opted to pass it to Jericho Cruz, who airballed the go-ahead three, which led to Christian Standhardinger's insurance free throws with 1.8 seconds left.
Kiefer Ravena missed the game-tying shot, which would have forced the first four-overtime game in PBA history.
For Anthony, who had a masterful 30-point, 11-rebound performance, the game was reminiscent of his 2012 Powerade Tigers. That team upset San Mig Coffee in the Philippine Cup quarters that year; a Cinderella run which ended in a Finals loss against Talk 'N Text.
"We have another great squad now and playing into their roles too," Anthony said. "Everyone stepped up today. We actually have a long way to go, we don't wanna get too happy although we're super happy."
Standhardinger, who is nursing an injury, poured in 33 points, 23 rebounds, and seven assists in 61 minutes of action.
"Christian was hurting a little bit, that guy came out and played his heart out. Everyone just played their hearts out man," Anthony said.
Michael Qualls chipped in 31 points, including the game-tying free throws with 7.4 seconds left in regulation, which forced the first extension.
Manny Harris held the scoring load for NLEX with 43 points, 16 rebounds, and five assists. Kiefer Ravena added 22 points, five rebounds, and six assists.
"Four knockout games. The desire, the hunger, the composure, and the commitment were there in the players. They really wanted to win," said a jubilant NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio.
NorthPort (126) - Standhardinger 33, Qualls 31, Anthony 30, Elorde 12, Taha 7, Ferrer 6, Lanete 4, Mercado 3.
NLEX (123) - Harris 43, Ravena 22, Quiñahan 13, Ighalo 12, Soyud 9, Paniamogan 8, Cruz 6, Taulava 6, Miranda 2, Fonacier 2, Alas 0.
Quarter Scores: 24-27, 43-56, 70-74, 99-99, 108-108 (OT), 116-116 (2OT), 126-123 (3OT)
It was the first triple-overtime game since Ginebra defeated Rain or Shine 100-92 on March 2, 2018.
There will be a break to give way to the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, the PBA Draft Combine, and the PBA Draft on December 8.
NorthPort: Game 1 of the semifinals vs Ginebra on December 14, 6:30 p.m., at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum