NorthPort Batang and Bay Area Dragons pulled off contrasting wins in the opener of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena on Wednesday, September 21.
Robert Bolick fired the game-winning triple with only 12 seconds left as the NorthPort escaped with a 92-89 come-from-behind victory over Phoenix.
NorthPort Robert Bolick
Bolick, Roi Sumang, and newly-acquired Arvin Tolentino combined forces to lead an 11-2 surge late in the match.
Coach Pido Jarencio said, “For me, a win is a win.” NorthPort, who recently traded Jamie Malonzo and acquired Tolentino, Prince Caperal, Jeff Chan, and Kent Salado in the three-team trade with Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer, survived a 19-point deficit amid the absence of import Prince Ibeh who was later fouled out.
“We were struggling the whole game defensively and offensively. Hindi namin makuha yung rhythm sa rotation and combination ng players. Ang maganda lang, yung puso andoon, yung will to win andoon and the players executed in the end, especially Mr. Clutch Robert Bolick (We couldn’t get the rhythm in the rotation and combination of players. The good thing is, the heart is there, the will to win is there and the players executed in the end, especially Mr. Clutch Robert Bolick),” he said.
Batang Pier was trailing behind early in the match. Down by six points in the final 1:58, Tolentino hit a trey followed up by Sumang’s basket and a triple plus a nice assist to Bolick for the eventual game-winning shot.
Jarencio added, “It’s a total team effort. Masama yung umpisa namin, down by 10 near the end but yung players, hindi sila tumigil magtrabaho.” said Jarencio.
Bolick paced NorthPort with 21 while Ibeh finished with 19 and 15 boards, Tolentino canned 16 with seven rebounds and four blocks, and Sumang had 15.
Phoenix, for its part, leaned on Javee Mocon who scored 24.
Fuel Masters import Kaleb Weeson accounted for 14 points, 17 boards, and seven assists in their opening game sans coach Topex Robinson (health protocols) and mainstays Sean Anthony, Jake Pascua, Sean Manganti, and Jason Perkins.
Bay Area Dragons lived up
In an earlier game, the Bay Area Dragons lived up to its billing by thrashing Blackwater, 133-87.
As a guest team, Bay area coach Brian Goorjian said they just wanted to help develop Philippine basketball while learning, growing, and providing entertainment to the public.
He said, “I hope we get a team that’s good enough down the stretch who could compete with the San Miguels and the Talk N Texts. Those teams down the backstretch. That would be huge for us.”
The Dragons leaned on Myles Powell who erupted with 41 points with eight boards while Glenn Yang added 23.
The Australian-American said they had a good defense from the start, adding: “We stayed in front of ’em, we did a good job on the on-balls. And in the offensive end, we really clicked.”
Blackwater struggled against the taller Dragons’ quick switches, exceptional ball movements, and prolific shooting.
Ato Ular made 13 points and 14 rebounds as Rashawn McCarth and import Cameron Krutwig made identical 11 points. Baser Amer and Mike Ayonayon finished with 10 apiece.
The Box Score
NorthPort 92 — Bolick 21, Ibeh 19, Tolentino 16, Sumang 15, Santos 10, Balanza 6, Ferrer 3, Salado 2, Dela Cruz 0, Chan 0, Calma 0, Taha 0.
Phoenix 89 — Mocon 24, Wesson 14, Serrano 10, Tio 10, Jazul 7, Camacho 7, Muyang 6, Lalata 4, Garcia 4, Rios 3, Lojera 0, Adamos 0, Robles 0.
Quarters: 12-28, 37-37, 61-65, 92-89.
Bay Area 133 – Powell 41, Yang 22, Zhu 13, Lam 13, Blankley 11, Liu 9, Zheng 7, Reid 5, Song 5, Liang 3, Ewing 3, Ju 1.
Blackwater 87 – Ular 13, Krutwig 11, McCarthy 11, Amer 10, Ayonayon 10, Taha 8, Jackson 8, Go 5, Sena 3, Dyke 3, Suerte 3, Publico 2, Ebona 0, Banal 0.
Quarters: 36-19, 64-36, 97-76, 133-87.