Batang Pier buck manpower problems,
snatch win from E-Painters' grasp
A FIRST look at NorthPort's post-Stanley Pringle era proved to be pleasing indeed.
Not even manpower problems that reduced them to eight men and a 25-point deficit would keep the Batang Pier from snatching a 107-105 overtime victory over Rain or Shine Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Mo Tautuaa scored a new career-high 34 points while Robert Bolick, Sean Anthony and Garvo Lanete also had their moments for NorthPort as it officially played for the first time in five years without Pringle, traded just last Tuesday to Barangay Ginebra.
"Sobrang excited ako nanalo kami ngayon," gushed Batang Pier coach Pido Jarencio, who had to make do with just eight players and yet steered his team to a third straight win, improved to a 6-1 record overall and grabbed a share of the lead with TNT.
"Mantakin mo, 6-1 kami ngayon, lumaban pa rin kahit walo lang players mo. Nakita mo potential ng team, nandiyan lumalaban. Nandito sila dahil trabaho nila ito, Focus nila, goal namin, every game manalo. Laban pa rin iyan."
Pringle surreptitiously watched the game from the stands, making Jarencio beam even more. "Puso noon nasa amin pa rin," he said. "Mahal na mahal din kami noon."
NorthPort played minus the injured Nico Elorde, Jonathan Grey, Lervin Flores and Bradwyn Guinto while Sol Mercado, Kevin Ferrer and Jervy Cruz, all acquired from Ginebra for Pringle, have yet to be assimilated to the NorthPort system.
Jarencio said he is sure his new acquisitions would all help make up for the injuries and ultimately prop his team in the longer run.
"Excited din ako sa darating na tatlo," said Jarencio. "Positive ako na tutulong sa amin iyan. Titingnan natin kung ano p'wede nilang ibigay."
Denzel Bowles led all scorers with 41 points on top of 21 rebounds and six assists, but also committed 10 turnovers, the last inadvertently helping NorthPort complete its long catch-up job in the extension and eventually drop Rain or Shine to a 2-3 slate.
The last miscue the former Best Import awardee also made could not be counted as a turnover, but he failed to call an available timeout after the last of Prince Ibeh's missed charities in the final six seconds of the extension.
Also going for naught was Javee Mocon's near-triple double of 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, as well as the efforts of Ed Daquioag, Rey Nambatac and Kris Rosales, who scored at least 10 points each, the bulk coming when the Elasto Painters posted as much as an 84-59 lead in the third period.
Bolick had 22 points, six rebounds and a gamehigh nine assists with Lanete adding 16 points, Anthony 14 points and eight rebounds and Paolo Taha 12.
It was Bolick himself who tied the game at 100 with his booming triple off Bowles and Nambatac to force OT and his drive put NorthPort ahead for the first time at 104-102.
Ibeh, suffering from a bum stomach, scored only nine points but hauled down 21 rebounds and had three blocked shots, the last off Beau Belga that led to a Tautuaa triple that made it a 107-102 game, 26 seconds left in OT.
Bowles quickly countered with his own bomb, but the Elasto Painters could not initially pounce on the opportunity to at least tie the game when Ibeh first missed two charities with the Batang Pier import securing the offensive board.