By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE NORTHPORT Batang Pier moved a step closer to notching a playoff incentive in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup after outlasting the Columbian Dyip, 110-108, on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Got itself into a battle against a gritty Columbian crew, Northport held steady in the payoff quarter to hack out the win that improved it to 8-2 in the tournament, making a strong case for a top-two finish in the elimination round and the twice-to-beat advantage in the next round.
Big man Mo Tautuaa led the early charge of Northport, helping his team to a 20-12 advantage with 4:38 to go in the opening frame.
The Batang Pier would use the separation to build a 26-21 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.
Columbian would open the second quarter on fire on the baton of Rashawn McCarthy and CJ Perez.
The Dyip raced to a 12-3 run in the first three minutes to overtake the Batang Pier, 33-29.
The pendulum swung back and forth after, eventually settling at a count of 52-50, and Northport on top, by the halftime break.
Northport hummed anew to start the third canto.
With Kevin Ferrer and Mr. Tautuaa on the firing end, the Batang Pier built a 66-59 lead with just five minutes lapsing in the frame.
Columbian fashioned out some fightbacks but Northport found ways to kept it at bay.
When the third-quarter smoke cleared, the Batang Pier continued to hold sway, 82-81.
At the start of the fourth quarter the jostling continued between the two teams.
The Batang Pier held a slim two-point cushion, 95-93, at the 6:11 mark before the Dyip went on a 6-0 run, led by import Lester Prosper, in the next two minutes to go up, 99-95.
The score was at 108-103, with Northport on top, entering the last two minutes on the strength of three straight triples from guard Nico Elorde.
Mr. McCarthy made it a two-point game, 108-106, with a triple with 46 seconds.
Northport had a chance to extend its lead with 28 seconds to go but import Prince Ibeh missed both his charities to keep Columbian in the game.
The Dyip made the Batang Pier pay for it as Mr. Perez was able to tie the game, 108-108, with a tipback with eight seconds remaining.
Northport, however, was able to execute a play with Robert Bolick driving into the lane.
His basket missed but it was ruled a goaltending on the part Mr. Prosper, giving the Batang Pier a 110-108 lead with two seconds left.
Columbian tried to send the game to extra period but the heave of Eric Camson as time expired failed to go through, handing the win to Northport.
Mr. Tautuaa led Northport with 23 points with Messrs. Bolick and Ferrer adding 21 points apiece.
Mr. Ibeh had 17 points and 15 rebounds while Mr. Elorde finished with 14 markers.
For Columbian, which dropped to 2-7 with the loss, it was Mr. Prosper who showed the way with 36 points and 17 boards with Mr. Perez adding 29 points and 12 rebounds.
“Credit to Columbian for they really made it hard for us. But breaks of the game and a win is win. We still have one game left and we’ll see where we end up,” said Northport coach Pido Jarencio in the postgame interview.
The Batang Pier next plays on July 12 versus the Meralco Bolts.