NorthPort sails to the Quarters, Rain or Shine ends with a win

The NorthPort Batang Pier made sure there would be no complications in their playoff trip. They survived a Barangay Ginbera run to earn a spot in the Quarterfinals with a 98-96 win. At 5-6, the Batang Pier avoided a pile-up at the bottom of the standings. Ginebra finishes the elims at 7-4 and still have a chance at the third seed depending on how the rest of the games play out.

Michael Qualls put on an all-around show to lead NorthPort. He finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks. Sean Anthony also had a full line with 18 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals. Christian Standhardinger backed them up with a double-double of his own, scoring 17 points and hauling down 11 rebounds.

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The Batang Pier knew the importance of this win to their Playoff chances. After a slow start, they were able to get back in the game with a big second quarter run. Down by 11 to start the period, Qualls, Anthony and Standhardinger slowly chipped away at the deficit. Qualls capped a 9-2 run to start the second, cutting the deficit down to just four. Standhadinger and Garvo Lanete scored five points to finally claim the lead from Ginebra. The game was a back-and-forth affair after that.

In the fourth period, Qualls, Standhardinger and Paolo Taha played big to build some separation from them and Ginebra. The three went on a quick 6-0 run to build a six-point lead from a tie count midway through the final quarter. Ginebra tried to get back in the game, getting to within one. But Taha and Standhardinger scored on crucial baskets to extend the lead back to five, holding off Ginebra for the big win.

In the first game, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters were fighting for a playoff spot when they got an 83-81 win over the Meralco Bolts. They finished with a 4-7 record and were hoping for a multiple-team tie that would give them a chance at a place in the Quarterfinals. But with NorthPort’s win later in the day, the Elasto Painters have been eliminated from contention. The Bolts finish the conference with an 8-3 slate.

Rich Ross and Rey Nambatac both put on inspired performances in the game. Ross had 26 points and 12 rebounds while Nambatac scored 24 with three triples. Allen Durham led Meralco with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

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The Bolts tried to pull away in the third quarter of the game. From a slim one-point lead, they went on a 9-0 run midway through the period to build an 11-point advantage. They took a nine-point lead heading to the final period. Unfortunately for Meralco, they were firing blanks in the fourth, limited to only 12 points during that stretch.

That allowed Rain or Shine to not only get back in the game but take control in the final minutes. A 13-2 run to open the quarter, led by Ross gave the Elasto Painters the lead back. Meralco was held scoreless for the first six minutes of the fourth. Nambatac then capped an 8-2 run with five points of his own as the Elasto Painters built a six-point lead. That was enough of a cushion to hold off Meralco all the way to the end.