Behind Malonzo and Bolick, NorthPort trips Terrafirma; Phoenix readies for killer finish
Of all the numbers popping out of the stat sheet after NorthPort’s 104-84 shellacking of Terrafirma on Saturday in the PBA Philippine Cup, the most important was the one that is rarely highlighted.
The Batang Pier outscored the Dyip’s bench, 55-39, at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga, with Garvo Lanete producing 18 points in a reserve role to lead NorthPort to its second win since coming out of a hiatus imposed on the team because of health protocols.
The Batang Pier were the last to see action in the league’s restart and team manager Bonnie Tan, who is moonlighting as coach with head mentor Pido Jarencio and his staff still recovering from COVID-19, understands that they have to play catch-up with the league’s schedule.
And that leaves NorthPort in a rather tight situation.
“Tomorrow is another day and another story,” said Tan, whose team play again on Sunday when it takes on NLEX (4-4).
“We’ll just have viewing tonight and then lean on our communication for these back-to-back games,” he added.
The compressed calendar of the Batang Pier makes wins like the one they scored over the Dyip important: NorthPort managed to spread its workload across its bench.
The starters did their job, no doubt.
Rookie Jamie Malonzo, the second overall pick of this year’s draft pumped in 14 points—several of which came by way of acrobatic dunks that flattened the wheels of the Dyip early in the contest.
“[Jamie] did a great job. His potential and talent make him deserving to be the No. 2 pick and I’m happy that he had a double-double in the past games,” said Tan.
Robert Bolick had 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds—he and Malonzo also starred in a 98-73 rout of Blackwater last Wednesday.
But the bench delivered, allowing the Batang Pier to survive the absence of Greg Slaughter, who played less than 10 minutes after being sent off early for a flagrant on Roosevelt Adams.
NorthPort improved to 3-3.Skipper Aldrech Ramos and Adams had 14 each for Terrafirma, which dropped to 3-6.
Juami Tiongson, who had been crucial in the upsets of San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra, had another quiet nine points.
Phoenix also turned its Friday playdate against Blackwater into something handy: A chance to “sharpen the saw.”
“We love this kind of opportunities for us to really get better and sharpen our saw,” said Phoenix coach Topex Robinson after his team’s 114-92 victory over Blackwater.
Phoenix is precariously perched on the No. 8 spot, the final playoff berth, with a 4-5 card but will face powerhouse San Miguel Beer and defending champion Barangay Ginebra in its last two games—both must-wins.
Phoenix skipper Matthew Wright, however, is confident that his teammates will step up.
“Two big games coming up against Ginebra and San Miguel,” said Wright. “Two very winnable games and we’re very confident against those teams. These next two games against two giants are going to be huge.
“As good as those two teams are, they got to guard us, too.”
Phoenix, at the very least, managed to get momentum going into that tough stretch after routing Blackwater, which has lost all its nine games this conference by an average margin of 17.1 points; the Bossing have lost by single digits only once, and barely—by nine, to Rain or Shine.