NorthPort aced its first test of the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup with a gutsy come-from-behind win over Phoenix Super LPG and undeniably a huge reason behind such was Roi Sumang.
Robert Bolick did rise to the occasion anew with the go-ahead three-pointer from the corner in the final seconds to give the Batang Pier the 92-89 victory, but it all became possible thanks to the wits of the floor general.
It was Sumang who found their main man wide open in the right pocket, dishing out a cross-court pass for the booming trifecta that eventually completed their comeback after being down 7-26 early in the match.
“‘Yun na ‘yung breaks of the game tsaka yung decision-making ko e,” he said. “Ginamit ko talaga sa ball screen … kasi ang alam ko ro-roll talaga si Prince [Caperal], tapos si Javee [Mocon] nandun siya sa dulo, maghe-help.
“Nakita ko na rin naman siya, so parang sinetup ko na rin si Berto kanina. Kasi kinausap niya rin ako na sabi niya, ‘Pre, ikaw naman, ready lang ako to shoot.’ Ayun ‘yung nangyari,” he added.
It was an 11-2 finishing kick pulled off by NorthPort after seeing itself trailing 87-81 with 1:56 left, and eight points of it were created by Sumang. He scored five straight after Arvin Tolentino’s triple, and then the assist to Bolick.
The nine-year vet went on to finish with 15 points on a 6-of-8 clip from the field, together with four rebounds, three assists, and a steal — all that after having doubts that he won’t ever be brought back into the match.
“Buong game, all through out, medyo nasa gilid na ‘ko kasi sobrang dami kong error kanina. Tapos ayun nga, nakaupo na ‘ko, parang alam ko ‘di na talaga ako gagamitin,” he said.
“Pero yun nga, siyempre ‘yung tiwala talaga ni Coach Pido na siguro na-gain ko, naging okay. Sinusuklian ko lang naman ‘yung mga binibigay nila sa akin,” added the 31-year-old guard.
Coach Pido Jarencio, for his part, always believed that he’d get something from Sumang whenever needed, for the veteran mentor knew what he can bring to the table ever since seeing him up close during his time with University of the East.
That’s why it was quite an easy decision for the management to reward the son of Tondo with a one-year contract last May after initially giving him a three-month deal during the 2021-22 Governors’ Cup to address their manpower woes.
“From the start, alam ko ‘yung Roi Sumang,” said Jarencio. “College pa lang, kinumpara na kay Kiefer Ravena ‘yan eh, UE and Ateneo. Talagang magaling ‘yung bata. Konting playing time, kumpyansa, mabalik niya ‘yung laro niya, and then ‘yan, nabalik niya ‘yung laro niya dito.
“Tingnan mo naman ‘yung decision-making — Arvin Tolentino, libre sa corner, pero ang hinanap, si Mr. Clutch, Robert Bolick, sa corner. ‘Di ba? Panoorin niyo ‘yung tape. Panoorin niyo ‘yung replay na ‘yun. Drumive ‘yung Sumang, andito, open na open, ‘yung kaliwa niya, kitang-kita niya si Arvin, pero ang hinanap niya, si Robert. ‘Yung decision-making, buo ‘yung bata.”
“Kaya talagang no hesitation noong kinuha ko ‘yun. Sabi ko, ‘Magaling ‘tong batang ‘to, basta makuha niya lang ulit ‘yung groove, ‘yung game niya.’ ‘Yan na, ayan na ‘yung Roi Sumang. Kasi college pa lang, nagka-pangalan na ‘yung bata,” added the former star cager.
With Sumang’s resurgence, Bolick was asked if he has already found a suitable backcourt partner. His response?
“Oo naman,” he said. “Ayun nga, sabi ni Coach, bangko pa lang ako sa La Salle, si Roi sikat na sikat na nung panahon niya sa UE. Nakikita ko na siyang maglaro. Hindi naman ako nagulat kung bakit ganyan siya maglaro.
“Sabi nga ni coach, ‘di ba, college pa lang talagang magaling na si Roi. Kulang lang siya ng exposure. Saktong-sakto, nakuha siya sa amin. Ang ganda ng fit namin, kasi alam na naming dalawa. ‘Pag medyo pagod siya, ako na. ‘Pag pagod ako, siya naman.
“Kagaya noong fourth quarter, sabi ko, ‘Pre, ikaw naman.’ Maganda ‘yung ginawa niya — tatlong possession ‘yun, crucial ‘yun ha. Isang lay-up, isang three-points, tapos ayun nga, pasa pa niya sa akin,” he closed.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.