(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:15 p.m. – Barako Bull vs TNT
7 p.m. – Meralco vs Alaska
A somber GlobalPort coach Pido Jarencio walked into the press room yesterday with an uninhibited, if a bit out-of-place, admission.
“My heart is bleeding,” said Jarencio, whose desire to celebrate the Batang Pier’s 96-90 victory over the NLEX Road Warriors in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup was tempered by the sad news that his alma mater, University of Santo Tomas, had just lost the UAAP championship to Far Eastern University.
Jarencio never won a UAAP title as the high-scoring star of the UST Glowing Goldies in the early ‘80s. But he delivered one for his school as its head coach in 2006, and he was inside the Growling Tigers’ dugout at halftime of Game 2 where UST rallied to force a winner-take-all.
He was, however, 16 kilometers away from the Mall of Asia Arena where UST blew a six-point lead in the final six minutes last night, laboring around the same time at holding back NLEX in the closing minutes at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Three final appearances in the last four years,” said Jarencio, who inquired of the outcome only after NLEX had been put away. “We have the same players who were in the finals the last time kaya medyo masakit talaga; frustrating. Akala ko makukuha na e.”
It took a few moments for Jarencio to will himself away from collegiate misery to pay tribute to the Batang Pier’s tenacity after the Road Warriors had come from 19 points down at the half to threaten within single-possession play in the closing minutes.
“Naka-focus kami sa panalo para magkaroon ng separation against NLEX,” he said. “Sabi ko nga, kung puwede lamangan ng malaki gawin namin dahil sa quotient system.”
Terrence Romeo had 29 points and Stanley Pringle added 27, but the Batang Pier couldn’t rebuild what they lost, with Kevin Alas’ three-point play from the baseline pushing NLEX within 92-90, a little over a minute left.
Billy Mamaril hit two free throws with 53 seconds to go in the return play and the Road Warriors wasted their remaining possibilities on misses and a jump ball as GlobalPort picked up its fifth win in eight games while sending NLEX to 4-4.
Tumult marked the final five-tenths of a second in the first half, with GlobalPort getting four free throws to extend its lead to 54-35.
The referees spend 10 minutes reviewing the last play where GlobalPort’s Keith Jensen launched a buzzer-beating three from the mid-court line and appeared to have been fouled by NLEX forward Sean Anthony.
In the second game, June Mar Fajardo fell a point short of matching his career high as defending champion San Miguel Beer reclaimed solo leadership by dumping Mahindra, 102-86.
Fajardo had 36 points against the same team and in the same conference last season but had to settle to leaving his personal best unequaled for now as the Beermen notched up their fourth straight win and seventh overall in eight games while handing the Enforcers their sixth loss in eight matches.
“I’m just happy to see our second stringers step up,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “Medyo complacent siguro yung first team namin at the start and I had to remind them that we don’t want to be embarrassed by this team.”
GLOBALPORT 96 – Romeo 29, Pringle 27, Jensen 14, Mamaril 9, Kramer 7, Washington 6, Pena 2, Sumang 2, Maierhofer 0, Semerad 0, Taha 0, Yeo 0.
NLEX 90 – Taulava 29, Anthony 17, Villanueva J. 10, Alas 9, Cardona 8, Villanueva E. 8, Khobuntin 5, Enciso 2, Lanete 2, Arboleda 0, Borboran 0, Reyes 0.
Quarters: 24-16, 53-35, 77-70, 96-90.
SAN MIGUEL 102 – Fajardo 35, Heruela 14, Santos 11, Tubid 11, Reyes 10, Lutz 6, Omolon 6, Cabagnot 3, Ross 3, Mabulac 1, Arana 0, Espinas 0.
MAHINDRA 86 – Ramos 13, Canaleta 12, Guinto 12, Hubalde 9, Dehesa 8, Pascual 8, Revilla 8, webb 8, Yee 4, Alvarez 2, Digregoro 2, Bagatsing 0, Laure 0, Pinto 0.
Quarters: 14-14; 39-33; 71-52; 102-86.