JUST the idea of giving reigning and defending PBA Governors Cup champion Rain or Shine the fits was a good enough consolation for Globalport in its maiden playoff stint that came to an abrupt end Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Batang Pier appeared ready to stretch the Elasto Painters to a winner-take-all showdown after leading by as many as 12 points in the third period before turnovers - and the subsequent ejection of coach Junel Baculi – got the better of them, allowing Rain or Shine to catch up and drag them to a tight finish.
That’s when the Elasto Painters’ veterans stepped up and delivered the knockout punch on Globalport’s bid to go deep in the playoffs. Gabe Norwood’s huge three-pointer in the final 17 seconds proved to be the final nail in the Batang Pier’s coffin as it gave the champions a 107-103 lead.
“I hope we could build on what we did. We took the defending champions and we could have won the game, but a couple of mistakes, couple of rebounds and then, Gabe hit the huge shot,” said Globalport guard Sol Mercado.
Mercado, out of Biola University, led Globalport’s locals with 22 points, five rebounds, and six assists in a 42-minute job.
But he was obviously disappointed with the team’s endgame meltdown.
“Definitely, I’m not satisfied. I felt like towards the end of the season, we started hitting our stride. I really felt we could win this game and get back on Saturday,” he said.
But Mercado rued several turnovers the Batang Pier committed in the final half that put to waste whatever advantage they were able to build on, allowing Rain or Shine to stage a mighty endgame comeback.
Looking at the bright side, the Fil-Am guard felt the team came together quite well towards the latter stage of the season-ending conference, which to him is a good sign, considering the early kick-off of the 2013-14 season on November 17.
“It’s a good thing the All-Filipino conference (Philippine Cup) is just right around the corner. I hope we could build on what we did,” he said.
The Batang Pier finished the season-ending conference with an overall 4-6 record, their total victories already surpassing the young franchise’s combined three-win output during the first two conferences of the year.