PBA: NorthPort finds defensive identity amid scoring threats

PBA: NorthPort finds defensive identity amid scoring threats

/ 04:20 AM March 05, 2024

 NorthPort Joshua Munzon (with ball) attacks the rim. —PBA IMAGES

Joshua Munzon (with ball) attacks the rim. —PBA IMAGES

NorthPort recently saw a bump in its collection of weapons with Will Navarro back in harness and rookie Zavier Lucero finally active. But its surplus in scoring options is not what will make this edition of the Batang Pier tick this PBA Philippine Cup.

Joshua Munzon, one of the club’s heroes in the 112-104 overtime triumph over Converge on Sunday night, believes that the squad’s defensive mettle is what will pull the squad throughout the league’s crown jewel showcase.


“I think tonight was a good example of [how] defense led to offense and [how] we got going in transition. I think that’s something we can build on, for sure,” he said on the heels of a 17-point performance spiked with a career-best six steals and two blocks at Smart Araneta Coliseum.


SCHEDULE: PBA Philippine Cup 2024

That was truly the case that night when NorthPort came back from an 18-point hole against a desperate Converge eager to redeem itself for a laughable performance last conference.

Looking dead in the water in the third quarter, the Batang Pier got it together on both ends in the final frame behind cornerstone Arvin Tolentino, Munzon, Navarro and another rookie in Cade Flores to force extra period and ultimately snatch their first win in the tournament.

Tolentino wound up top scoring with 31 points to go with his eight rebounds and 11 assists. Navarro chipped in 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Flores a double-double of his own with 14 and 14.

“Ultimately, defense is going to win us games. More than often, [actually],” said Munzon, who figured prominently in the team’s overall defensive effort of 19 steals and seven blocks.

Arvin Tolentino NorthPort Batang Pier PBA

NorthPort forward Arvin Tolentino.–PBA IMAGES

“That was the biggest thing,” he added. “We just sparked the defense and that’s what ultimately brought us back into the game.”

Stinging loss

The win was timely for NorthPort, which was still nursing a stinging loss to NLEX a few nights before. But more importantly, it was a much-needed development for a squad that is still trying to learn more about itself according to coach Bonnie Tan.


“We have a young team,” he said in the postgame presser. “We still don’t have an identity when it comes to finishing a game. We’re still looking for the perfect endgame players, especially after the last time we played an overtime [game where] we only scored two points.”

READ: PBA: Zavier Lucero activated by NorthPort

NorthPort faded in the extra session, 107-100, in its PBA conference opener against the Road Warriors even with the highly touted Lucero and former Gilas Pilipinas cadet Navarro delivering double-digit scores.

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NorthPort’s road toward self-discovery takes an interesting turn in the coming weeks as the Batang Pier battle last PBA Commissioner’s Cup darling Phoenix next. And then a wringer of a schedule: Meralco, TNT, Magnolia and then Barangay Ginebra.

TAGS: Northport Batang Pier, PBA

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