By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
NORTHPORT Batang Pier began their PBA Philippine Cup bid with a victory on Wednesday, defeating the Blackwater Elite, 117-91, in the league curtain-raiser at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Engaged in a back-and-forth duel in the opening half, the Batang Pier did not relent when they got their collective groove as the game progressed to book their first win in the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association tournament.
Northport opened the game strong, going on an 8-0 run in the first minute of the opening quarter, extending its lead to 11-2 by the 9:50 mark led by rookie Robert Bolick and star guard Stanley Pringle.
Roy Sumang though would lead a 16-7 blast by Blackwater in the next five minutes to level the count at 18-all.
The Elite used the run as leverage for the rest of the first canto to hold a 31-22 advantage after the first 12 minutes.
In the second quarter, the Batang Pier angled to recover some lost ground only to be met defiantly by the Elite, who continued to hold sway, 42-33, six minutes into the period.
But Northport was undeterred and kept fighting its way back.
It would overtake Blackwater, 48-45, with less than two minutes in the quarter, eventually settling for a seven-point cushion, 55-48, at halftime.
At the start of the third frame it was the Elite’s turn to make a run.
Northport though would be ready for it, led by forward Paolo Taha, taking a 10-point lead, 69-59 by the 6:35 mark.
The Batang Pier sustained control of the quarter after, posting a separation of 88-75 heading into the final period.
With momentum on its side, Northport moved to go for the jugular early in the fourth quarter.
It stretched its lead to 21 points, 97-76, with 8:46 to go.
From there it was all Batang Pier.
The count stood at 108-80 with six minutes to play before the rout was completed.
Mr. Bolick, the third pick in the 2018 PBA rookie draft, had a game-high 26 points in his debut outing for Northport.
Mr. Taha had 21 points while Sean Anthony chipped in 19.
Mr. Pringle, meanwhile, finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
For Northport it was rookie big man Abu Tratter who led the way with 18 points and nine boards with Mr. Sumang ending up with 16 points.
“Bolick really complemented the team. The team is ready for this season,” said Northport coach Pido Jarencio after their victory, making special mention of their prized rookie Bolick.
“We’re happy with the win but there is still a long ways to go for us. We’ll take it one game at a time,” he added.