11 May 2017

Bolts 86, Globalport 94

It seems GlobalPort has made the right decisions after all, at least after an initial test.

New replacement import Justin Harper and the other Batang Pier newcomers made immediate impact, resulting in a 94-86 shocker over Meralco last 10 May in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Harper scored 30 points while Sean Anthony and Bradwyn Guinto chipped in their ample share, including hooking up with team veteran Stanley Pringle in the endgame, as GlobalPort kept alive its hopes of making it to the quarterfinals.

With their third win in nine games the Batang Pier now lie just one game behind eighth-running Phoenix with defending champion Rain or Shine and San Miguel Beer as their remaining assignments on May 26 and June 2, respectively.

Only the top eight teams advance following the 11-game eliminations.

The loss, only its second in nine games, hardly mattered for Meralco since it has already advanced to the next round as early as two games before. But its bid for a top two finish and a twice-to-beat advantage over one of the lowest-ranked teams took a major hit.

The Bolts must now prevail over Star on May 24 and Ginebra four days later to at least cop No. 2.

Most of the blame should be on Harper, who GlobalPort coach Franz Pumaren said was their original choice but had to settle for Sean Williams and Malcolm White first when the LA D-Fender standout proved hard to get and opted to ply his wares in other places first.

"We were basically running after him and finally he said, 'Yes' to us," related Pumaren of Harper who made 10 of his 20 shots, including five triples, despite arriving only in the wee hours of yesterday morning that perhaps accounted for him committing eight turnovers.

"You can see he's a scoring import, somebody who can give us a new dimension in our game," said Pumaren.

Pumaren did not forget Anthony, who came off the bench for 18 points and eight boards, and Guinto, who had eight and seven. The other team newcomer, Jonathan Grey, did not do so bad himself with four rebounds, three points and as many assists in 16 minutes.

"The new players really helped us," said Pumaren. "That's why I specifically chose them. They're the type of players who can help us right now."

After scoring nine points in the first quarter, Pringle missed his next nine shots. But that did not deter him from persevering as he wound up with 16 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

His four free throws off the game's ninth and last deadlock at 81-all helped give GlobalPort an 89-84 lead.

After Chris Newsome's freebies brought Meralco within three, Pringle then snapped out of his drought with his biggest basket of the game, a twisting drive that jacked the Batang Pier's lead to 91-86 with only 35 ticks left.

Charities by Anthony and Harper sealed the win, helped along by misses from Cliff Hodge and Newsome.

Alex Stepheson paced Meralco with 19 points and 27 rebounds while Justin Chua added a career-high 16 points, Jared Dillinger 14 and Baser Amer 11 points and seven dimes.

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