MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Even in a roller coaster conference, Globalport Batang Pier is showing how they're slowly but surely finding the right chemistry involving their mix of rookies and veterans.
They exemplified it best when they showed consistency and maturity down the stretch as they hung tough in overtime en route to defeating the Alaska Aces, 91-88, in the PLDT myDSL Philippine Cup on Sunday, January 12 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
For rookie head coach Ritchie Ticzon, the consistency they have been working on in spite of losing is finally showing.
"The thing that we talked about during the pre-game was to be consistent," he explained. "We always compete with other teams but the problem was the whole game we were able to compete but towards the latter part of the game or maybe third quarter we falter a bit."
This consistency was called for more so against Alaska as Globalport had to fight for their playoff chances without the services of veteran Jay Washington. Washington was ruled out of the game after sustaining a plantar fasciitis on his right foot.
In his absence, Ticzon relied on Kelly Nabong who ably stepped up to the plate.
"Kelly Nabong has been playing well pero magka-pwesto sila ni J-Wash (but he plays the same position as J-Wash)," Ticzon commended his ward who contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds, including the game-tying bucket that forced overtime.
"It's really unfortunate for us to lose J-Wash (Washington) but it's really also great that Kelly was able to step up and show his talent and he's really good."
The Aces and Batang Pier were exchanging runs throughout the contest but in the end Globalport had the last laugh as they showed grit, the will to win and better execution to hold off a streaking Alaska.
Globalport built a 15-point 70-55 lead at the start of the fourth but Alaska erased that with much better defense that resulted in important stops. Late in the fourth, two free throws by Cyrus Baguio allowed Alaska to take the lead, 78-77, with 2:38 remaining.
Globalport, however, did not force things and stuck with their plays to weather Alaska's late game storm. A Sol Mercado three breathed some life into Globalport, 80-78, with 2:17 left.
JVee Casio scored on a drive with 25.2 seconds on the clock to get the lead, 82-80. But Nabong stayed composed as he attacked Alaska's defense to tie the game at 82 and force overtime.
Globalport then kept Alaska scoreless for the first half of the extra 5 minutes and led, 87-82. Nabong sealed the deal on two freebies with 1.4 seconds remaining to ink the final tally after Casio sank a triple and came close, 88-89.
Both teams weren't too far away from each other in terms of their field goal shooting percentages, with Globalport going 24-of-64 (37.5%) and Alaska going 28-of-73 (38.4%).
Even in rebounding Globalport only edged Alaska, 56-54.
The Batang Pier won this game due in large part to their efficiency from the stripe, making 25 of their 30 attempts. While Alaska made good on only 14 of their 23 attempts.
The Aces, who are in danger of missing the post-season, have been on a slump in the past couple of games as they failed to get their entire team in the groove. They are now reeling with a 3-game losing skid.
Sonny Thoss, JVee Casio and Cyrus Baguio combined for 62 points but it still wasn't enough to overcome Globalport. Thoss also added 18 rebounds to his name.
Meanwhile, Ticzon and the rest of his team are already looking forward to their last game in the eliminations against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. As of posting time, Ticzon and his team are scouting Ginebra's match against Barako Bull.
"Yun pa rin (Still the same), (we want) consistency," Ticzon said of how he plans to approach their match against Ginebra. "We need to play 48 minutes of basketball."
Globalport (91): Romeo 18, Nabong 13, Mercado 11, Menk 10, Belencion 9, Salvador 8, Salva 7, Najorda 6, Garcia 5, Hayes 4, Revilla 0, Chua 0
Alaska (88): Casio 21, Thoss 21, Baguio 20, Espinas 14, Dela Cruz 7, Buenafe 3, Eman 2, Laure 0, Jazul 0, Hontiveros 0, Ramos 0, Exciminiano 0
Quarter scores: 15-19, 34-31, 68-55, 82-82, 91-88 -Rappler.com