After a bleak Governors’ Cup start, Batang Pier find optimism in breakthrough win
Coach Bonnie Tan is not discounting the possibility of another NorthPort turnaround after finally getting a victory in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup.
“Don’t take away the fact that we won three straight games in the bubble,” Tan said in Filipino following the Batang Pier’s 115-100 win over the skidding Terrafirma Dyip on Wednesday at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
It was NorthPort’s breakthrough win in the season-ending conference after a 0-6 start. As bleak as their campaign has been, they can count on recent history showing they have rebounded well from early struggles.
The streak Tan mentioned was during the 2021 Philippine Cup, when the then-team manager had to take over the chores from the COVID-stricken Pido Jarencio, resulting in three straight victories after a 1-4 start. That catapulted NorthPort to a quarterfinals berth.
Five straight wins
NorthPort lost its first five games to open the 2021-22 Governors’ Cup, but went on to win five in a row to climb into quarterfinal contention. The team, however, fell short of extending its campaign after losing to Phoenix in a playoff for the No. 8 spot.
Tan, who won for the first time since switching roles with Jarencio, hopes to plot a drastic climb once more, especially with Robert Bolick slowly getting his rhythm back and Arwind Santos returning after being out since the Commissioner’s Cup due to a knee injury.
And if rookie center JM Calma, who stepped up with 18 points and nine rebounds, plays consistent and Joshua Munzon finds his rhythm on offense and becomes a reliable second option, NorthPort might indeed make another late run.
Munzon finished with 17 points Wednesday night against his former team.
“We have to consider that Robert Bolick just got back and this is only his third game and Arwind Santos played his first game,” Tan said.
“I think if given little time, we will be more competitive in our next games,” added Tan, whose remaining elimination round schedule has a bottomfeeder, a team searching for consistency and perceived contenders on tap.
NorthPort plays Blackwater on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum followed by a March 2 meeting with Magnolia at the same venue.
Rain or Shine will be next on March 4 at PhilSports before returning from the All-Star break to conclude the elimination round against TNT on March 15, also in the Pasig venue.
Import Kevin Murphy led NorthPort with 28 points while Bolick, whose conference began with negotiations of a contract extension looming large before a settlement was reached, had 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.
A fourth straight defeat sent Terrafirma to 2-6, its playoff chances continuing to fade with NLEX and Magnolia slated on March 2 and 4 and Barangay Ginebra on March 8 at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.