For the second straight match, GlobalPort got off to a fast start. And for the second straight time, the Batang Pier emerged victorious.
Locked and loaded from the get-go, GlobalPort took control early on and made enough stops down the stretch to hold off Star on Friday night 91-84 and gain a share of the lead in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Lightning-quick guard Stanley Pringle provided the spark offensively as he banged in half of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter, outscoring the entire Hotshots who could only score nine markers while setting the tone for the Batang Pier’s impressive victory.
The wire-to-wire win came on the heels of an equally sound 97-75 beating of Mahindra over the weekend, enabling GlobalPort to join Rain or Shine atop the 12-team field.
Their desire to pounce on their speed advantage and better offensive execution early on certainly made things easier for the Batang Pier—and the Hotshots’ life more miserable.
“In the Mahindra game, we came out good, but today, we had a better warmup. As soon as the game began, everybody was ready to run. We kept on pushing the ball early,” said the 6-foot-1 Pringle, who also had three rebounds, two assists, as many steals and a block against a lone error in 38 solid minutes of play.
The top overall pick in the 2014 rookie draft, Pringle admitted the Batang Pier still cannot afford to relax since they have a pair of tough matches against Alaska and Barangay Ginebra in a span of four days starting on Wednesday.
“We just need to stay focused. We need to execute for sure. We got to early starts on both of these games. I doubt Alaska is going to let us have our early start,” he stressed.
“We’re pretty sure they’re going to slow us down early so we got to focus on executing and keep on playing good defense.”
Still, the Batang Pier have certainly underscored their readiness to duplicate—or even surpass—the semifinals finish they achieved in the all-Filipino tourney last season.
“We’re just taking it game-by-game. We’re just putting ourselves in a better position for the playoffs,” said Pringle. – Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @BudoyLagunzad