SOL Mercado and Gary David willed Globalport back to life behind a gutsy second-half fightback as the Batang Pier climbed out of a huge deficit to down the Meralco Bolts, 91-79 and keep their quarterfinal hopes alive in the PBA Governors' Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Three days after squandering an 18-point lead and losing to Barako Bull, 97-98, the Batang Pier came into the game obviously out-of-sync and fell by as much as 20 points in the opening half.
But they were a totally different team shortly after the halftime break when they began to clamp down on the Bolts while hitting their shots almost at will from just about everywhere on the floor behind the hot hands of David and Mercado.
“Ginamit naming motivation `yung loss namin last Sunday because it’s a won game already,” said a beaming Globalport coach Junel Baculi afterwards.
The outspoken coach heaped praises on Mercado for taking the cudgels for the Batang Pier and rising to the occasion against the Bolts, his former squad, by scoring clutch three-pointers and holding the team together in the second half.
Ironically, tension arose between the two over a timeout left uncalled in the final seconds of the loss to Barako Bull. (For full story, see Baculi accepts blame, but says Sol should learn to take responsibility, too)
“I had a talk with Sol and I told him, ‘You’re my extension there, you can’t blame anybody but ourselves. We rise as a team. And if we lose, we lose together as a team, 'di puwede yung, ‘Kasi kasalan niya’,” said Baculi.
The Batang Pier snapped their three-game skid as they climbed to a 3-4 (win-loss) record and enhanced their quarterfinal chances in this single-game elimination round tournament.
Globalport’s third win also matched the franchise’s three-win total combined during the first two conferences of the season.
On the other hand, the loss put an end to the Bolts’ three-game winning run while creating a four-way logjam at 4-3 in the standings.
Import Markeith Cummings led the Batang Pier with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists.
David added 21, 14 of them coming in the third period in a torrid display of outside shooting, while Mercado scored all 15 of his points in the second half.
Mario West led the Bolts with 22 points, but only had six points in the second half after being saddled by foul trouble. He eventually fouled out late in the contest.