NorthPort turned in a scintillating performance to subdue a misfiring Phoenix Super LPG, 115-79, for its breakthrough victory in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, Wednesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The Batang Pier opened the second frame with a 17-2 blitz for a commanding 39-20 lead, and the game would never be in question as they bounced back from the ugly 63-85 loss to Meralco on opening day.
That defeat saw them produce their lowest output in team history, as well as the second all-time lowest field goal percentage at 20.9-percent. But they have definitely redeemed themselves after scoring the 36-point rout.
According to league stats chief Fidel Mangonon III, that is the largest win margin in NorthPort history. Its previous biggest win margin came in a 124-90 conquest of Ginebra in Game 1 of their 2019 Governors’ Cup best-of-five semis.
“Masyadong disappointment ‘yung first game namin. We set the record for the lowest scoring yata sa PBA, sa percentage. Ginawa na lang namin, we fixed one thing: defense na lang,” said head coach Pido Jarencio.
Robert Bolick finished with 20 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds — indeed an indication that he has regained his old, deadly form in just his second game back from a partial ACL tear he suffered back in October 2019.
“Laking pasasalamat kina coach. Binigyan nila ako ng mahabang pahinga, ‘di nila ako naglaro sa bubble. Binigyan nila ako ng chance na mag-recover ng matagal. Nag-pay off naman sa season na ‘to,” Bolick said.
Rookie Troy Rike shone brightly as well in the conquest, producing 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from deep — including four straight in the final frame that hiked their lead to 32. He also had eight boards, three blocks, and two dimes.
Kevin Ferrer also finished with 20. Sidney Onwubere and neophyte Jamie Malonzo each made 15 markers and combined for 17 caroms, and Paolo Taha had 12 as a total of six Batang Pier finished in double figures in the win.
“Yung potential, kailangan may result. We invested in defense. Sinet namin ang defense, and then ang offense darating. Pagdating ng offense, magiging madali lahat. And then everybody will contribute,” said Jarencio.
Their defense held Phoenix to just 31-percent shooting from the field, and also handed the Fuel Masters their second-worst loss in franchise history, next only to a 123-79 loss to Star in the 2017 Philippine Cup eliminations.
NorthPort scored the big win even without Greg Slaughter and Sean Anthony. The 7-foot slotman was on the sidelines together with the veteran forward, who sat out as he is dealing with an ankle issue.
Vic Manuel led the Fuel Masters with a game-best 26 points in the stinging defeat, their second in as many outings.
NorthPort will look to keep going versus San Miguel Beer (0-1) on Sunday, July 25, at 2:00 p.m. as an opening salvo to a triple-header. Phoenix, meanwhile, battles Alaska (1-1) on Saturday, July 24, at 4:35 p.m.
NorthPort (115) – Bolick 20, Rike 20, Ferrer 20, Onwubere 15, Malonzo 15, Taha 12, Elorde 6, Faundo 4, Balanza 3, Subido 0, Doliguez 0, Grey 0.
Phoenix (79) – Manuel 26, Wright 15, Perkins 12, Jazul 8, Garcia 6, Melecio 4, Demusis 2, Chua 2, Pascual 2, Rios 2, Faundo 0, Muyang 0, Calisaan 0, Napoles 0, Tamsi 0.
Quarterscores: 22-18, 50-31, 79-51, 115-79.