NorthPort, a revelation last conference until its quarterfinal downfall against eventual champion San Miguel Beer, got off to a triumphant start in the PBA Governors Cup via a 99-94 topping of Rain or Shine Friday night at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
Making the most of the abrupt ending of their Commissioner's Cup run, the Batang Pier came out strong in the season-ending tourney but had to quell a Rain or Shine fourth-quarter uprising.
The Batang Pier pummeled the stunned ROS side with a massive effort on both ends of the court through the first three quarters, needing the buffer versus the E-Painters who later came to within three after trailing by as many as 24.
It was still a good comeback for coach Pido Jarencio and his troops who sizzled with a 9-2 (win-loss) showing in the Commissioner's Cup elims only to blow away a twice-to-beat advantage versus San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals.
Returning PBA import Mychal Ammons and Rob Bolick, back from a stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup, led NorthPort to the victorious conference start.
Ammons piled up 25 points and 19 rebounds, including a crucial 15-point effort in the third period while Bolick came up with 20 markers, including clutch conversions at the finish.
"In the first half, we just ran our offense; we ran it through. In the third period, I tried to be aggressive," said Ammons, key in keeping the Batang Pier afloat in the third quarter.
But the E-Painters pressed harder in the fourth and got into the game at 87-91 with over two minutes left to play.
Ammons and Bolick, however, themselves won it for NorthPort on a seven-to-nothing binge that restored a double-digit spread for the Batang Pier at 97-87.
Kevin Ferrer was a third NorthPort player who scored in double figures with 12.
Joel Wright and Rey Nambatac, meanwhile, paced the losing team with 22 and 19 markers, respectively. (SB)