By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE UPSWING of the Northport Batang Pier in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup continued on Wednesday after defeating the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 107-105, in overtime at the Mall of Asia Arena to extend their win streak to three games.
Playing with just eight players, Northport struggled early in the contest but showed resilience and determination to claw its way back and eventually pulled the rug from under Rain or Shine to notch the win that improved it to 6-1 and share of the top spot in the standings.
The Elasto Painters got it going first, shooting an efficient 52%, led by import Denzel Bowles and rookie Javer Mocon, to claim a 25-17 lead by the end of the opening quarter.
Rain or Shine continued with its hot shooting in the second canto, allowing the team to stretch its lead to 17 points, 45-28, with 3:25 to go in the frame.
But Northport would finish strong on the lead of Mo Tautuaa and Paolo Taha, outscoring the Elasto Painters, 12-4, the rest of the way to narrow the gap, 49-40, at the half.
The two teams came out the third quarter aggressive, looking to build early momentum.
The Elasto Painters kept a safe distance of 63-49 midway before cranking things further to make it a 20-point cushion, 70-50, by the 4:55 mark.
Sean Anthony tried to rally the Batang Pier but with no success as Rain or Shine’s lead even grew a notch to 21 points, 84-63, heading into the fourth quarter.
Sensing that the game was slipping from them, the Batang Pier began the final canto with a sense of urgency.
Garvo Lanete started to find his range from beyond the arc to help Northport to come within eight points, 88-80, with seven minutes left in the match.
The two teams slugged it out after.
The count was at 90-86, and Rain or Shine on top, with a little over three minutes remaining.
Five straight points care of Rey Nambatac and Mr. Bowles gave Rain or Shine more breathing space, 95-86, entering the last two minutes.
Northport, however, was not about done, making one last push to salvage the win, narrowing its deficit to just three points, 100-97, with 28 seconds left.
Rain or Shine had a chance to put the game away but Mr. Bowles muffed his two free throws to open the door for Northport.
Rookie Robert Bolick drained the game-tying triple with 11 seconds remaining, making up for an earlier backcourt miscue.
The Elasto Painters still had an opportunity to win the game but the last-second triple by Gabe Norwood failed to connect, sending the game to extra time.
The points came hard for both teams in overtime as they fought to a 102-all count with two minutes to go.
The floodgates opened for Northport after as Messrs. Bolick and Tautuaa conspired for five points straight to give their team a 107-102 lead with 26 ticks left.
It was a hole Rain or Shine could not recover from as Northport booked the win.
Mr. Tautuaa finished with a career-high 34 points for Northport, going 5-of-9 from three-point land, to go along with 11 boards.
For Rain or Shine (2-3) it was Mr. Bowles who led with 41 points and 21 rebounds.
“Credit to all the players. They showed the will to win despite the team being undermanned. This win shows what the team is capable of,” said Northport coach Pido Jarencio after their win.