NORTHPORT turned to rookie Robert Bolick in the clutch as the Batang Pier clinched a quarterfinal berth with a 100-97 win over Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Bolick scored 24 points including the go-ahead triple with 52.9 seconds left in the fourth to give the Batang Pier a 98-97 edge against a team of Ginebra second-stringers that fought to the very end.
With its fifth win in 11 games, NorthPort clinched the seventh seed in the quarterfinals and left Alaska and NLEX - which lost to Magnolia in the opening game - to play in a one-game playoff for the eighth and last quarterfinal berth.
Barangay Ginebra, which let mostly second stringers to finish the match, finished the elims with a loss but remained as the No. 3 seed despite ending up in a tie with TNT and San Miguel at 7-4 (win-loss).
Ginebra now faces rival Magnolia and SMB takes on TNT in a pair of potentially explosive best-of-three quarterfinal series.
After a six-game losing skid midway through the conference that left their playoff fate hanging by a thread, the Batang Pier finished with three straight wins to clinch an unlikely place in the quarterfinals against No. 2 seed Rain or Shine.
“Basta kami, we did well in our last three games at nakapasok ng outright sa quarters. Blessing na rin for the team at sa amin,” said NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio.
NorthPort led by as many as 10 points and was still up, 92-85, before Ginebra gained the upper hand after Jervy Cruz scored with 1:09 left in the fourth for a 97-95 lead.
Then came Bolick's fourth three-pointer of the game that enabled the Batang Pier to regain control. After Pringle hit two free throws for a 100-97 lead, Sol Mercado threw up a three-pointer from midcourt in Ginebra’s last possession.
Sean Anthony had 19 points but was not fielded late in the match due to an injury. Mo Tautuaa added 17 points for NorthPort.
Greg Slaughter had 14 points, while Cruz added 13 for the Kings.
NorthPort 100 — Bolick 24, Anthony 19, Tautuaa 17, Guinto 14, Pringle 9, Grey 9, Taha 6, Flores 2, Elorde 0, Lanete 0.
Ginebra 97 — Slaughter 14, Cruz 13, Mercado 10, Thompson 9, Dela Cruz 8, J. Aguilar 8, Ferrer 7, Devance 7, Caperal 4, Mariano 4, Teodoro 4, Tenorio 3, Chan 3, R. Aguilar 3, Caguioa 0.
Quarters: 22-21; 47-45; 77-72; 100-97.