NorthPort keeps playoff bid alive with fourth straight win
Robert Bolick returned on Wednesday, doing a pretty good job of making it up to NorthPort for his sanctioned absences as the Batang Pier roughed up Blackwater and left the Bossing scrambling for motivation to end a record slump.
Bolick dropped 30 points and 11 rebounds as NorthPort hammered out a 116-103 victory, the team’s fourth straight win in the PBA Governors’ Cup, and pinned a 28th straight defeat on Blackwater.
“I really had to make up to the team. They took down two heavyweights without me,” Bolick said after the match at Smart Araneta Coliseum, where he also tallied six assists and three steals in his first game back since being loaned to the national team in a recent Fiba (International Basketball Federation) tournament.
The Batang Pier climbed to 4-5 and into eighth place, moving closer to leaving behind a disastrous start and booking a playoff berth.
“With 0-5, any other team would’ve given up. But not us,” Bolick added. “Our mentality has changed. We’ve got two more games and we hope to pull off a sweep.”
Blackwater, on the other hand, is looking for just one win. And with nothing to play for—the Bossing have long been eliminated from the playoffs race—in the season-ending tournament, Blackwater coach Ariel Vanguardia is hoping the team owner’s coming birthday will manufacture enough motivation to haul the team out of its festering ignominy.
“I told my players that Blackwater committed to you, signing you to contracts for the future—the core of this team even having contracts for a year or two … [management] never gave up on us. So we can’t give up,” Vanguardia said on his way out of the Big Dome.
“Also, our team owner’s (Dioceldo Sy) birthday is coming up this Saturday. I told the players that we still have two chances at winning. We could at least try to give [something] back to him,” he added.
The Bossing’s final two games, though, are against powerhouses Magnolia and TNT, which will try to beef up their playoff hopes and will have added motivation when they face Blackwater. The two teams will try their best to avoid being the opponent that becomes the final stop of a long-running stretch of mediocrity.
With a 28th straight loss, the franchise is now 10 games up on the second-worst losing streak, defunct Presto’s 18. Blackwater is winless in nine games this conference, and couldn’t get a win on Wednesday even with Shawn Glover turning in a herculean effort of 47 points that went with 12 rebounds.
Paul Desiderio added 17 points but all that went for naught in the face of a determined NorthPort team.
NorthPort import Jamel Artis scattered 26 points, and added five boards along with nine assists to his name, while Arwind Santos added 21, his experience coming through when the Bossing threatened to nibble away at the lead.
“Everybody just stepped up, especially in the first group. I think it’s just everybody wanting to win,” said NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio. “[F]rom 0-5, we worked hard for these four straight wins. Everybody is doing his share and [everyone] is helping.”
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