MANILA, Philippines – Only 4 eighth-seeded teams in PBA history pulled off the improbable by booting out the top seed in the quarterfinals. And in two of those underdog teams, Sean Anthony played a key role.
Anthony and No. 8 NorthPort pulled off a colossal upset after eliminating No. 1 NLEX in the PBA Governors’ Cup following a grueling 126-123 triple overtime win on Wednesday, November 27.
It was reminiscent of how the eighth-seeded Powerade took down the top-ranked B-Meg in the 2011-2012 Philippine Cup playoffs, a win where the 33-year-old Anthony – who was only 25 then – was a part of.
“One thing with Powerade, everyone bought into their role. We had the Big 3 with Gary [David], Marcio [Lassiter], and JVee [Casio],” Anthony said.
“We have another great squad now and playing into their roles too. Everyone stepped up today,” he added as the Batang Pier reached the semifinals for only the second time in franchise history.
But unlike that 2011 quarterfinals series where he mostly played as a support, Anthony was the star this time alongside Christian Standhardinger and import Michael Qualls with each breaching the 30-point mark.
Anthony played 47 minutes off the bench and put up 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 steals, doing the damage when it mattered most as he scattered 24 points in the 4th and the 3 extra periods.
Standhardinger and Qualls, meanwhile, conjoined for 64 points, 44 rebounds, and 11 assists after seeing action for 61 and 62 minutes, respectively.
“This is definitely the most tired I’ve ever been. But there’s no tomorrow right? Do-or-die,” Anthony said.
“Christian was hurting a little bit, that guy came out and played his heart out. Everyone just played their hearts out, man.”
NorthPort had to go through an uphill climb to reach where it is now, having to deal with a dismal 3-6 start, an import change, and injuries to key players Robert Bolick, Jonathan Grey, and Bradwyn Guinto.
But everything fell into place for the Batang Pier as they won their last two elimination round games to barge into the playoffs before erasing the Road Warriors’ twice-to-beat advantage.
Going through that kind of adversity has forged a deep bond between the players, Anthony said.
“A big win like a triple-overtime win like that, we’re going to be brothers forever in this team. That just brings us closer.”
“Credit to our coaching staff and management for getting us together and putting us together. I think we have the right chemistry and a hell of a group of guys right now,” Anthony added.
But Anthony warned the job is far from done as NorthPort faces the ever-dangerous Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-five semifinals series.
And what Powerade fell short of doing when it was beaten by TNT in the finals that conference, Anthony wants NorthPort to accomplish.
“We actually have a long way to go, we don’t want to get too happy, although we’re super happy. We still have some business to do,” he said.
“I hope we can do what we couldn’t with Powerade and go all the way.” – Rappler.com
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