Robert Bolick starred to power NorthPort past NLEX, 96-94, to extend their winning streak to three in the 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup, Sunday night at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
On the eve of his 26th birthday, the third-year point guard tied his career-high 26 points, shooting 10-of-20 from the field. He also collected five assists, three rebounds, and two steals against two turnovers in nearly 39 minutes of play.
“First of all thank you kay God, binigyan kami ng panalo. Binigay lang talaga namin yung best namin. Wala e, gusto namin manalo para sa mga coaches namin,” said Bolick after the match.
Seventeen of his points came in the third quarter, where he shot 70-percent to give his side a 65-49 advantage from a narrow two-point lead.
Still, he and the Batang Pier had to overcome a gritty end-game stand from the Road Warriors to cap off their week on a triumphant note.
NorthPort was already up by 14 with 3:51 remaining, until Don Trollano caught the hot hand and nailed three three-pointers in a 12-2 run that cut the deficit to just four, 91-95, with 53.5 seconds on the clock.
But Bolick and his teammates stepped up on the defense with 24 seconds to spare. They were able to defend the attempts of Trollano, Calvin Oftana, and Kevin Alas to prevent NLEX from drawing any closer.
Alas, though, managed to bank in a triple moments after Paolo Taha’s freebies, but 1.1 seconds was not enough to complete the comeback.
“It’s all team effort. May mga assistant coaches naman ako, sila Kevin Ferrer at Sean Anthony. They did a good job helping this team na makatapos nang maayos,” said interim head coach Bonnie Tan.
Taha and Sean Anthony had 14 points apiece, while rookie Jamie Malonzo supplied 14 points and 13 rebounds in the victory that further boosted NorthPort’s playoff chances as it improved to 4-3.
“Kung titignan mo talagang nakatulong kasi naka 3-0,” said Tan of how their prolonged layoff helped them. “Siguro it’s God’s destiny na mangyari sa amin ito para makakuha rin ng tatlong panalong sunod-sunod within one week.”
NorthPort was able to get the win without Greg Slaughter due to cellulitis, but they badly missed his presence after losing the boards, 43-60.
But while NorthPort was able to string up victories, the woes continued for NLEX as it absorbed its third consecutive defeat to fall to 4-5.
Trollano led the Road Warriors with 19 points, aided by five triples. Alas finished with 13 points alongside six assists and five rebounds, as Kris Porter and Anthony Semerad chipped in 10 markers each.
Jericho Cruz also had 10 points with 10 rebounds and six assists for NLEX, who went 0-3 in Week Two of the Bacolor semi-bubble.
NorthPort 96 – Bolick 26, Taha 14, Anthony 14, Malonzo 13, Onwubere 9, Ferrer 8, Grey 5, Lanete 5, Elorde 2, Rike 0, Balanza 0.
NLEX 94 – Trollano 19, Alas 13, Semerad 10, Porter 10, Cruz 10, Oftana 8, Miranda 7, Paniamogan 5, Soyud 4, Ighalo 3, Mcaloney 3, Ayonayon 2.
Quarterscores: 29-26, 48-45, 73-65, 96-94.