In a little twist of irony, the Globalport Batang Pier, by beating the disinterested Alaska Aces, 117-104, in overtime last night, might have drawn as quarterfinal opponent the same team they shut off from the fourth and last twice-to-beat edge in the PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs.
That would be the defending champion Star Hotshots (Purefoods), who are expected to get past the Blackwater Elite at presstime and secure the No. 5 spot behind No. 1 Alaska, No. 2 San Miguel Beer, No. 3 Rain or Shine and No. 4 Globalport.
Star falls to No. 7 if Blackwater prevails.
All four teams can advance to the best-of-5 semifinals by putting away their respective playoff rivals on their first meeting starting Friday. Rubber matches will be made available, if necessary.
The Aces are up Friday against the No, 8 team, which could be Kia Motors, Talk ‘N Text or Barangay Ginebra San Miguel depending on today’s schedule, while Globalport is set to tangle with the vengeful Star Hotshots. Completing the quarterfinal pairings will be SMB against Meralco and Rain or Shine against Barako Bull, now on a dizzying free fall after losing its last four games.
Jarrid Famous had 34 points and 26 rebounds to lead Globalport while Stanley Pringle added 24, including 10 in the final quarter, and Omar Krayem 20, his huge 3-point shot with three minutes left in regulation shoving Globalport back in the fight, 96-94, after the import-less Aces had opened a 96-91 lead.
Their efforts notwithstanding though, it was Terrence Romeo who came up with the finishing touches by scoring 10 of his 14 points in the extra period after 48 minutes ended with the game tied, 98-all.
A strategic move to keep his key players away from unforeseen injuries and fresh for the playoffs saw Alaska coach Alex Compton sitting down import Romeo Travis and 6-foot-9 center Sonny Thoss in the second half and overtime.
Their absence did little to ease the load for Globalport, however, as the Aces bench, with Noy Baclao, rookie Rome dela Rosa and Vic Manuel, kept the game dangerously close after the Batang Pier had rallied from 14 points in the second quarter.
Globalport shot 67 percent in the third quarter where the shorthanded Aces missed 14 of 20 field goal attempts and were blown off inside the paint, 20 to 8.
Famous, who had 11 points at half time, came through with 16 in the third quarter alone without Travis or Thoss making life miserable for him.
Globalport coach Pido Jarencio took the win but wasn’t deluded by the circumstances behind it.
“Nag-all Filipino lang ang Alaska so siguro we just took advantage of the situation,” Jarencio said. “At least nakuha naming ung twice-to-beat. Bahala na sa quarters pero at No. 4, no room for error na siguro yung kalaban namin.”
The prospect of taking on multi-titled Star and its champion coach Tim Cone isn’t loss on Jarencio, who deferred to Cone but nonetheless couldn’t resist bringing up in passing Globalport’s victory over Star in the eliminations.
“Underdog kami sigurado lalo na sa experience,” he said. “Pero at least alam namin na puwede pala namin silang talunin. Yon na ang motivation siguro namin. Yung kay Coach Tim, medyo mataas na level na yon para maging motivation ko.”
Globalport outscored Alaska, 19-6, in overtime, with the Aces shooting 3 of 8 in the extra five minutes.
Late in the evening, the Star Hotshots denied Blackwater a coveted fiery exit, breaking away in the fourth quarter, 87-82, and securing the No. 5 slot in the playoffs.
The Hotshots trailed, 46-39, at halftime but forced the Elite to five missed 3-pointers while hitting three in taking over in the third quarter, 67-64, and doing just enough to slip lower in the playoffs.
GLOBALPORT 117 – Famous 34, Pringle 24, Krayem 20, Romeo 14, Jensen 11, Kramer 8, Mamaril 2, Isip 2, Miranda 2, Hayes 0, Semerad 0, Buenafe 0.
ALASKA 104 – Baguio 20, Travis 13, Banchero 10, Menk 10, Abueva 8, Jazul 8, Manuel 6, Dela Cruz 5, Casio 5, Thoss 4, Baclao 4, Dela Rosa 4, Exciminiano 4, Hontiveros 2, Eman 1.
Quarters: 16-26, 40-49, 74-67, 98-98 (reg), 117-104 (OT)
STAR 87 – Blakely 22, Mallari 12, Devance 12, Simon 11, Barroca 10, Yap 10, Pingris 4, Taha 3, Melton 3, Reavis 0, Maliksi 0, Pennisi 0.
BLACKWATER 82 – Cousin 21, Gamalinda 12, Cervantes 9, Acuna 8, Celiz 7, Bulawan 5, Laure 5, Canada 5, Reyes 4, Erram 2, Heruela 2, Golla 2, Ballesteros 0.
Quarters: 19-21, 39-46, 67-64, 87-82