GLOBALPORT's locals proved up to the task when import Malcolm White made an early exit, pooling their efforts for a 98-94 shocker over San Miguel Beer Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"Credit to the players, especially Nico Elorde who hit that three-point shot," noted coach Pido Jarencio. "Hindi maganda laro niya the whole game then that big 3-point shot. Grabe, game-changer."
Stanley Pringle and Nico Elorde stood out the most, coming up with the clutch plays in the endgame that enabled the Batang Pier to snap out of a three-game slide and also notch a win over a San Miguel side it hasn't beaten since last season.
With an even 4-4 slate, GlobalPort climbed two rungs higher into fifth and right back into the thick of the fight for playoff slots.
A big part of the credit should be on Pringle and the man who replaced him at the starting guard position.
Elorde scored only six points, but he highlighted his production with a go-ahead three-pointer that yanked GlobalPort out of the game's last deadlock at 92. He later added a free throw that practically iced the count, 98-94, only 9.1 seconds left.
Before Elorde, there was Pringle, who came off the bench for 22 points, six rebounds and eight assists. He also had three steals, the last off a Beermen inbound that led to a Mo Tautuaa basket that made it 97-94.
"I think 'yung defense ni Stanley crucial din. Nag-turnover sila roon. Kung napunta kay (Marcio) Lassiter o kay Alex Cabagnot iyun, baka naka-three-points pa sila," offered Jarencio.
"Ths is a big win for us, especially going to the playoffs. Pag nagkagulo sila mas gaganda puwesto namin. Pero at the same time meron pa kaming crucial games na natitira," added Jarencio, referring to his team's last elimination round assignments against Phoenix, Columbian Dyip and Barangay Ginebra.
The loss cut short SMB's winning run at three and dropped it to a 3-4 record as it changed places with its conqueror.
"Sa sarili ko lang, di ko alam kung papaano tatalunin San Miguel. Never kong tinalo San Miguel. This is the first time. Then papunta pa ng playoffs. Blessing for the team talaga," said Jarencio.
What makes the win more impressive is the fact it was fashioned despite White getting thrown out for getting slapped with a second technical foul, which put SMB ahead 86-80, still 8:09 left in the game. He was earlier teed up late in the second quarter for using profane language and wound up with 25 points and 10 rebounds.
White getting thrown out had its silver lining, according to Jarencio. "Siguro, nag-motivate sa amin lalo pagkawala ni Malcolm White," he said.
"Positive talaga for the team kasi nawala na import tapos nagbigay pa ng energy sa ibang players."
After suffering a sprain with 4:57 left in the final frame, Renaldo Balkman returned and led everybody with 33 pointd and 13 rebounds and June Mar Fajardo added 20 and eight and Cabagnot 19 markers.
Yet the Beermen failed to take full advantage of White's ejection and paid dearly because of it.
Before he was called for a second motion by hitting a driving Balkman on the face with his elbow White was a big factor in GlobalPort's fightback from two 12-point deficits in the third period and his four straight points to open up the fourth brought the Batang Pier within 74-79.(NC)
GlobalPort 98 - White 25, Pringle 22, Anthony 11, Guinto 9, Tautuaa 8, Grey 7, Elorde 6, Teng 3, Nabong 3, Sargent 2, Javelona 2.
San Miguel 94 - Balkman 33, Fajardo 20, Cabagnot 19, Santos 10, Lassiter 6, Santos 6, Rosser 0, Heruela 0, Pessumal 0, Standhardinger 0.
Quarters: 23-27, 47-51, 71-79, 98-94