MANILA, Philippines – Fighting for pride, the Globalport Batang Pier finally found a way to achieve something they almost forgot doing this conference: winning.
In a battle of two squads coming from heart-breaking losses, the Batang Pier made sure this time they would deliver in the end to edge Barako Bull, 98-96 in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner's Cup on Sunday, April 13 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Alex Cabagnot salvaged his squad some pride after hitting the go-ahead triple from the left wing with just 10.9 seconds left to give the Batang Pier a 96-93 edge, and sank two more free throws to douse water on the Energy's comeback aspirations.
Cabagnot finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and 4 steals to pace the Batang Pier - who almost wasted a 21-point edge.
The Batang Pier snapped an 8-game losing skid, avoided becoming the first team since Shopinas.com with a winless conference, and also gave head coach Pido Jarencio his first win as PBA head coach.
"At least happy ending diba. Last game ng conference nanalo. Stepping stone na yan. At least nakapanalo na ng isa," said Jarencio after the hard-fought victory.
(At least we had a happy ending. This first win is a stepping stone towards the next conference)
Behind the hot hands of Evan Brock and Nico Salva, who combined for 17 first quarter points, Globalport buried Barako Bull early, 29-12.
The Energy slowly rose from a slumber in the next quarter, bringing down the lead to just 3 at 35-38 with Jeric Fortuna exploding for three long-range bombs in a 15-5 Barako run.
RR Garcia answered back with two straight treys of his own to give Globalport some breathing room heading into the halftime huddle.
In the third quarter, it was Mark Macapagal's turn to come out with guns blazing, drilling back-to-back threes and also feeding Brock for thunderous alley-oop slams to open another double-digit advantage - their biggest - at 67-46.
But Barako didn't want to end their season crashing, battling back little by little. Down 72-86 in the final period, Ronjay Buenafe hit two triples while Dave Marcelo made key baskets inside as the Energy scored a 16-5 straight to make it 88-91, with only 2:13 left in regulation.
Intal and Macapagal then traded free throws before Intal hit a trey to knot the count at 93, 59.1 to go.
A Brock miss on the other end gave Barako a chance to take the lead, but Buenafe's intended pass to Josh Dollard was foiled by Brock.
After the timeout that left Globalport 19 seconds on the shotclock to operate, the Batang Pier went to their leader Alex Cabagnot, who dribbled time away before converting on the go-ahead three-point basket, 96-93, 10.9 seconds left.
The Energy had one final opportunity to come back, but Intal had difficulties inbounding and threw the possession away, leading to two assurance free throws by Cabagnot.
Barako Bull formally crashes out of the playoff race, wounding up with a 2-7, joining Globalport at the cellar of the team standings.
Asked about their plans for the future, Jarencio said they are keen on improving even more.
"Lahat naman ng teams nag-struggle sa umpisa. Naghahanap na kami ng import (for the Governors' Cup) and will start practicing."
(Every team struggles in the beginning. We're already in the hunt for an import [for the Governor's Cup] and will start practicing.)
Brock added 27 points and 16 rebounds while Mark Macapagal chipped in 21 marker on 5/11 3-PT shooting to help in Globalport's morale-boosting victory.
Globalport (98) - Brock 27, Macapagal 21, Cabagnot 14, Garcia 12, Nabong 9, Salva 7, Washington 4, Salvador 2, Custodio 2, Matias 0.
Barako Bull (96) - Dollard 22, Intal 16, Pennisi 13, Fortuna 11, Buenafe 11, Lastimosa 7, Marcelo 6, Miranda 4, Najorda 2, Jensen 2, Pena 2, Miller 0.
Quarterscores: 29-15, 51-42, 80-63, 98-96.