From modest dreams earlier, Globalport has moved on to great expectations.
Powered by the league’s most dynamic backcourt duo and lit up emotionally by a player Barangay Ginebra San Miguel traded away last year, the Batang Pier advanced to the best-of-7 semifinals of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup last night by ousting the Kings in overtime, 84-83, at the Mall of Asia Arena, spoiling the post-Christmas celebration of thousands who lingered on inside the venue even after the final buzzer to await resolution to a disputed finish.
Meeting Globalport in the semis are the Alaska Aces, with Game 1 of the series on Jan. 5. Contesting the fourth and last Final Four berth, meanwhile, are Rain or Shine and the TNT Tropang Texters, with defending champion San Miguel Beer facing the winner in the other semis bracket starting Jan. 4.
The closing minutes of regulation and the extra period looked headed for another cliffhanging climax for the Kings, who eliminated the Star Hotshots on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by LA Tenorio in overtime on Christmas Day.
Instead there was former Ginebra player Billy Mamaril hitting the game-tying basket with 4 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Mamaril smothering Tenorio’s last-gasp attempt in regulation, Terrence Romeo opening the five-minute extension with a triple, Jay Washington nailing another 3, Stanley Pringle banking in a drive against Greg Slaughter, and Globalport delivering the biggest upset of the conference with its gallant stand.
There also was a fuming Ginebra coach Tim Cone signifying the Kings’ intention to put the game under protest.
Pringle poured 25 points on 10 of 18 from the floor and Romeo had 23 with five triples as Globalport clinched a franchise first semifinal appearance against the team that blew them apart, 123-104, in the elimination round.
“Breaks of the game na lang siguro ‘to; talagang gusto lang ng mga bata na makarating semis,” said Globalport coach Pido Jarencio, a former Ginebra player who time and again maintained during the elims that they were “just out to make it to the twice-to-beat bracket in the playoffs.”
Now the Batang Pier can shoot for a loftier goal.
“Pahinga muna kami, konting practice, enjoy this win first time namin na makapunta sa semis,” Jarencio said.
Globalport may also want to monitor the next 16 hours until noon today, which is the time given the Kings to file a formal protest and post a P20,000 bond with the Commissioner’s Office in the aftermath of the disputed final eight seconds of the game.
What sparked the controversy was the apparent five-second ball-hogging violation supposedly committed by Pringle after the inbounds pass. Double-teamed near the mid-court line, Pringle hung on to possession with the clock running out and consuming most of the remaining time.
Pringle eventually passed off as no whistle was blown and the buzzer sounded, triggering celebration at the Globalport bench while a livid Cone stormed into the court demanding answers. After reviewing play and consulting with PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa, the referees made the final score official.
GLOBALPORT 84 – Pringle 25, Romeo 23, Washington 13, Yeo 11, Mamaril 4, Kramer 3, Semerad 3, Jensen 2, Maierhofer 0, Pena 0, Sumang 0.
GINEBRA 83 – Slaughter 25, Tenorio 18, Devance 12, Caguioa 9, Mercado 9, Aguilar 6, Cruz 4, Ellis 0, Marcelo 0, Thompson 0.
Quarters: 18-16, 33-32, 53-53, 74-74, 84-83