NorthPort turns focus on TNT with quarterfinal slot at stake
NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio was hardly in the mood to celebrate NorthPort’s 124-117 nipping of Terrafirma Saturday night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Never mind if it was the Batang Pier’s fifth straight win, allowing them to level their card after starting the tournament on a five-game tailspin.
And Jarencio had a truly good reason to keep NorthPort even-keeled.
“I told the players, the five straight wins would be for nothing if we can’t win our last one—which will be crucial for us to make the playoffs,” he said in the customary postgame presser for winning coaches.
“That’s why the goal is to win against [TNT], and get that quarterfinal slot,” he went on.
But if it’s any indication, Jarencio’s charges are looking more and more primed for that showdown.
NorthPort overhauled a 19-point deficit and took everything Terrafirma could muster down the stretch to pull out the win that had several Batang Pier scoring in double-digits.
Import Jamel Artis had 31 points and eight rebounds, while Arwind Santos added 28 and nine. Robert Bolick and Jamie Malonzo pumped in 21 each while Kevin Ferrer 11 for an outstanding display of the Batang Pier’s firepower.
The club also showed steel nerves in the payoff period, turning back several of the Dyip’s comeback tries—something that should come in handy during high-stakes matches, including the upcoming one against a league heavyweight.
“They’re the defending Philippine Cup champions and we don’t intend to lose,” Bolick told the Inquirer of the game against TNT. “So it’s shaping up as an interesting matchup.”
Bolick, whose 17 assists pretty much greased that spread-out scoring, will be a central figure in that dogfight against the Tropang Giga. The former San Beda star in college is coming off a stint with Gilas Pilipinas, where TNT’s core formed the backbone of the national squad.
Gilas Pilipinas was coached by TNT tactician Chot Reyes.
“Even if I am familiar with TNT’s system, the players over there are still talented. They do adjustments well. We all know coach [Reyes’] ways,” he added.
Terrafirma got the goods from import Antonio Hester, who had 40 points and 18 rebounds. Joshua Munzon, added 24 while Juami Tiongson poured in 18 off the bench as the also-ran Dyip slid to 2-8.
TNT currently sits at 5-4, and will have to play Terrafirma first before taking on NorthPort.
“What’s important for us is to keep sticking to what we have been doing for the past five games and continue looking out for each other,” Bolick said.