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NorthPort clinches quarterfinal spot with upset of Ginebra

Michael Qualls got the last laugh over Justin Brownlee. PBA Media Group
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—NorthPort secured the seventh seat in the PBA Governors' Cup quarterfinals after stunning Ginebra, 98-96, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Sunday night.

The Batang Pier pulled a late run and kept the Barangay at bay in the end to book their place to the Final 8.

Down 79-83 with 8:13 left, Chris Standhardinger scored five straight points to put NorthPort ahead, 84-83, with 7:28 to go.

Joe Devance scored on a triple to give Ginebra the lead back, 86-84, but Sean Anthony responded with his own triple that actually opened a 9-1 run to give NorthPort a 93-87 cushion with 4:37 to play.

The Barangay scored five straight points to bring them to within one, 92-93, but Standhardinger and Taha scored crucial layups to put the Batang Pier back up by five, 97-92, with 2:49 left.

Back-to-back jumpers from Justin Brownlee and LA Tenorio pulled Ginebra back to within one, 96-97, with 1:37 left, but NorthPort held the team scoreless the rest of the way.

Michael Qualls put up 30 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks for the now 5-6 Batang Pier, who knocked out the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters from quarterfinal contention even if they prevailed over the Meralco Bolts in the first game.

NorthPort still needs to wait for the result of the Wednesday night game between Alaska and NLEX to determine its final playoff position.

The Batang Pier can seal the seventh seed if the Aces lose to the Road Warriors, but the Aces, due to the winner over the other tiebreaker they have against the Batang Pier thanks to their 106-99 victory on Nov. 3, can claim the seventh seed and bring the Batang Pier down to eighth with a win.

Anthony added 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, six rebounds, six assists, and five steals off the bench, while Standhardinger came up with 17 markers, 11 boards, two assists, and one swipe.

Brownlee finished with 31 markers, nine caroms, one dime, and one block for the Barangay, who will have a waiting game of their own.

Although they already secured a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, their final seeding will depend on the Wednesday nightcap between the San Miguel Beermen and the TNT KaTropa.

Currently in fourth place at 7-4, Ginebra will stay put if TNT wins or SMB beats TNT by 14 points or more. Otherwise, if the Beermen just win by at most 13, the Barangay will zoom up to third place.

The scores:

NorthPort 98 - Qualls 30, Anthony 18, Standhardinger 17, Ferrer 11, Taha 7, Cruz 6, Lanete 5, Mercado 2, Elorde 2, King 0.

Ginebra 96 - Brownlee 31, Pringle 18, Tenorio 15, Aguilar 14, Thompson 7, Chan 4, Dela Cruz 4, Devance 3, Mariano 0, Caperal 0.

Quarterscores: 20-29, 51-52, 75-73, 98-96.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno