Dec 01, 2023

Rookies, Tolentino rise to the occasion, lead NorthPort to victory past TNT

ROOKIE Fran Yu ably backed up Arvin Tolentino in overtime and NorthPort snapped out of a two-game slide by stunning TNT, 128-123, Friday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the PhilSports Arena.

Yu boomed in a clutch triple to cap the Batang Pier's 7-0 start to the extension before finding Tolentino for a deep triple of his own that made it a 125-119 count, only 63 ticks remaining.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson strung up four points to bring the Tropang Giga within 123-125, but Yu had a charity split while Tolentino canned a pair of freebies that sealed the win.

The win jacked NorthPort's record to 3-2 while dealing TNT a second straight loss that dropped it to 2-3.

"It feels good because coming off back-to-back losses medyo nag-back to basics kami, back to the drawing board," said Tolentino, who finished with 27 points, seven of those in OT.

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"Beating TNT is a good thing for us," added Tolentino. "Masaya kami. Buti sinuwerte."

Yu wound up with a career-high 14 points and six assists in also complementing Venky Jois' efforts that netted the latter 21 points after being limited to just four in the first half.

The Australian also had 12 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals, none bigger than the one he translated into a basket that made it 122-116.

Also coming up with a new personal high was another rookie, Cade Flores, who notched 16 points and eight boards. Joshua Munzon also tallied 16 points while taking on the extra challenge of trying to contain Hollis-Jefferson.

Each of the charges he fielded coming up with splendid performances obviously pleased coach Bonnie Tan. "Iyun ang challenge ko sa kanila during our practices, to put in extra effort, lalo na sa defense," he said.

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Hollis-Jefferson still led everybody with 35 points on top of 13 rebounds and eight assists, but he also had six turnovers.

Glenn Khobuntin set a new career-high with 22 points, the same output by Calvin Oftana, while Jayson Castro added 20 markers and seven boards but still couldn't prevent TNT from bouncing back from a 95-109 loss to Meralco last Sunday.

NorthPort actually had the chance to win it outright in the last four seconds of regulation and the count tied at 113-all following Jois' dunk. He then stole the ball off Hollis-Jefferson, but with no player allowed to call a timeout, Yu had no choice but to heave a triple try that was way off the mark. (NC)

The Scores:

NorthPort 128 - Tolentino 27, Jois 21, Munzon 16, Flores 16, Yu 14, Calma 10, Paraiso 10, Caperal 5, Amores 5, Chan 4.

TNT 123 - Hollis-Jefferson 35, Oftana 22, Khobuntin 22, Castro 20, K.Williams 10, Ponferrada 4, Aurin 3, Montalbo 3, Heruela 2, Galinato 2, Reyes 0.

Quarters: 37-33, 61-62, 90-89, 113-113, 128-123