NEWCOMER Globalport finally got over the hump after three successive losses, claiming the first win in franchise history, 105-104, against a Meralco side that suffered a double blow on Wednesday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the MOA Arena.
Two-time MVP Willie Miller banged in a conference-high 33 points spiked by a six-of-seven shooting from three-point range as he led the Batang Pier’s amazing comeback from a 14-point deficit in the game's final five minutes.
The Batang Pier are now 1-3 after snapping the Bolts’ two-game winning streak.
“Ang hirap manalo dito (PBA). Pero siyempre, first win, masaya,” said a smiling Batang Pier coach Glen Capacio, who earned his first victory as a PBA coach. "Akala ko di aabot ngayon eh. Alam naman natin, grabe ang teams dito sa PBA, halos lahat ang lalakas."
The setback added to the miseries of Meralco, whose coaches found out at halftime that they had lost important belongings when a thief hit their dugout while the game was in progress.
For full story of the burglary, click here.
Despite the shock, the Bolts managed to erect a huge lead of 92-78 heading into the final five minutes of the match.
But the Batang Pier just refused to give up. Sparked by Rey Guevarra’s five-point cluster that included a two-handed breakaway slamdunk, Globalport uncorked a telling 27-12 windup to turn the match around.
Fil-Am rookie Jason Deutchman’s back-to-back three-point shots inside the final 73 seconds of the match gave Globalport the lead, 100-99. Then, AJ Mandani, another rookie, completed a three-point play off Mac-mac Cardona to give the Batang Pier enough buffer in the end.
“Malaking bagay para sa mga players ito. Morale kasi namin down after ng tatlong sunud na talo. Siguro magi-iba ang pakiramdam ng mga players ko going to our fifth game,” added Capacio, whose team missed last season’s PBA leading scorer Gary David with a knee injury.
Miller became the first active PBA player to reach 8,000 career points on a historic night against the Bolts. He earned his 8,000th point after draining a wide-open triple at the height of the Batang Pier fourth-quarter rally. He finished the game with 8,002 points.
Deutchman added 20 points, eight during the final period, while adding nine rebounds and two shot blocks. Rabeh Al-Hussaini chipped in 17, including two key free throws down the stretch, aside from pulling down six boards and issuing three assists.
The Bolts, meantime, put to waste the 30-point explosion of guards Solomon Mercado and Ronjay Buenafe, who carried the fight for the team most of the way.
Globalport 105 - Miller 33, Deutchman 20, Al-Hussaini 17, Mandani 12, Manuel 6, Guevara 6, Yee 5, Vanlandingham 4, Salvador 2, Lingganay 0, Cruz 0, Antonio 0
Meralco 104 – Mercado 30, Buenafe 30, Hodge 15, Reyes 7, Nabong 6, Hugnatan 5, Artadi 4, Salvacion 3, Belencion 2, Cardona 2, Bulawan 0, Borboran 0, Sharma 0
Quarter scores: 25-25, 52-48, 76-87, 105-104