Jun 01, 2023

Batang Pier seek breakthrough win versus undermanned Tropang Giga

WITH two games under its belt NorthPort should be close to finding its bearings in the PBA On Tour, more so now that it is taking on a TNT side that would be without its main weapons Friday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

The Katropa have opted to give the likes of Jayson Castro, Mikey Williams, Calvin Oftana, Roger Pogoy and Kelly Williams additional rest after playing crucial roles in their Governors' Cup championship run last April.

Even coach Jojo Lastimosa would be temporarily relegating the reins to assistant Sandy Arespacochaga, although the former has been overseeing TNT's sessions since the team started practices two weeks ago.

To help fill up some of their vacant players slots the Katropa have tapped Clifford Jopia, Damie Cuntapay, Peter Alfaro and JV Gallego, all formerly of San Beda who are each eyeing inclusion in the coming PBA Rookie Draft.

Although the likes of Poy Erram, Justin Chua, Kib Montalbo, Glenn Khobuntin and Paul Varilla are lined up, TNT is poised to primarily try and find out how their new recruits would fit in.

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This opening, no matter how small, could be what NorthPort needs to finally barge into the win-column in the pre-season.

Featuring some draft prospects of their own the Batang Pier struggled for the most part in their opening game and dropped an 89-97 decision to Meralco last week, before again failing to find their true bearings in a 75-87 loss to San Miguel Beer last Saturday.

Despite those losses, NorthPort coach Bonnie Tan remains hopeful his team will ultimately develop chemistry and stir out of its funk.

"We're still an ongoing process kaya nandiyan pa rin struggles," said Tan following the SMB game.

'Pero umaasa kami na the more they play with each other, mas made-define na roles, mas magkakaamuyan na sila."

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Among the few bright spots for NorthPort is Justin Calma, who is averaging 14.5 points and 12 rebounds a game. Paul Zamar has also been proving steady with a team-leading 16 ppg, as well as Mar Jesper Ayaay (13.5 ppg).

Tan is also hoping Joshua Munzon would finally get into his groove after the former No. 1 overall pick by Terrafirma has so far averaged only 2.5 points after going scoreless against SMB. (NC)