MANILA, Philippines – The GlobaPort Batang Pier caught the last bus to the quarterfinals of the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup after a thrilling 107-106 victory over the Alaska Aces in a knockout game Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Terrence Romeo drilled a big-time three-pointer with 8.1 seconds left to put the Batang Pier ahead, 106-104, and GlobalPort held firm defensively in the dying moments of the contest to secure their passage to the playoffs.
GlobalPort will face off with the top-seeded Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, who are armed with a twice-to-beat edge, in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
"Today's game is a testament that the boys don't want to go on a break yet," GlobalPort coach Franz Pumaren said after the game. "It's going to be a tough series for us – just a one-day rest, and we're playing the No. 1 team, the team that's on a streak."
"Hopefully, we can sustain the run," he added.
Romeo finished with 26 points, five rebounds, and three assists, while Stanley Pringle added 21 points, six boards, and five dimes. Import Justin Harper tallied 32 points and 17 rebounds.
It appeared as though the game was going to be a blowout in Alaska's favor as the Aces ran out to a 26-12 lead in the first quarter, only for the Batang Pier to score 14 straight points bridging the first and second frames to force a tie.
GlobalPort eventually led by as much as nine, 41-32, in the second period, but the two teams found themselves locked into a back-and-forth war in the second half. Calvin Abueva and import Cory Jefferson took turns carrying the load for the Aces, while Pringle, Romeo and Harper starred for the Batang Pier.
Romeo was spectacular in crunch time, drilling a triple that made it 101-100 with 2:12 left, before Chris Banchero's lay-up gave Alaska back the lead. After two charities by Pringle off a Jefferson foul made it 104-102, Abueva hit a crucial lay-up to tie the contest for Alaska with just 20.6 seconds to go.
The Batang Pier, however, showed no panic as they put the ball in Romeo's hands and let him go to work. The former UAAP MVP shook off the defense of Kevin Racal for a step back triple that hit nothing but net, giving GlobalPort a crucial two-point advantage, 106-104, with just 8.1 seconds to go.
"We have to give credit to the guy," Pumaren said of Romeo. "He's really willing to take the shot, and that's why he's Terrence Romeo. In short, makapal ang mukha niya."
Abueva agonizingly missed a field goal in Alaska's next possession, as he saw his lay-up go in-and-out of the basket. However, the Batang Pier left the door open for the Aces when Harper made only one of two charities.
Unfortunately for Alaska, Simon Enciso's triple from the right corner hit iron, and Ping Exciminiano's follow-up was one point too short.
The loss provided a heartbreaking finish to Alaska's campaign in the tournament. The Aces opened the Commissioner's Cup with four straight victories – including a 107-79 rout of GlobalPort in their first game – but ended it with an eight-game losing streak.
This marks the first time since the 2012 Governors' Cup that the Aces have missed the playoffs, and the first time that they missed the playoffs in Alex Compton's tenure.
Abueva netted a career-high of 31 points, making 12 of his 19 shots, to go along with 13 rebounds and three assists. Jefferson added 32 rebounds and 16 boards, while Banchero scored 16 markers.
However, the Aces allowed GlobalPort to shoot 47% from the field, and including 13 of their 38 three-pointers. In contrast, Alaska mustered only four triples in the entire contest.
GLOBALPORT 107 - Harper 32, Romeo 26, Pringle 21, Guinto 8, Cortez 6, Pessumal 5, Anthony 5, Grey 3, Maierhofer 1, Mamaril 0, Forrester 0, Paredes 0, Pennisi 0.
ALASKA 106 - Jefferson 32, Abueva 31, Banchero 16, Manuel 9, Exciminiano 8, Racal 3, Enciso 3, Galliguez 2, Cruz 2, Thoss 0, Pascual 0, Hontiveros 0, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarter scores: 20-26, 52-49, 74-78, 107-106
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