PBA: Surging NorthPort adds to NLEX's woes

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2021 09:32 PM | Updated as of Sep 12 2021 10:18 PM

Robert Bolick starred in NorthPort's third straight win. PBA Media Bureau.
Robert Bolick starred in NorthPort's third straight win. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA (UPDATED) - The NorthPort Batang Pier survived a late rally by the NLEX Road Warriors for a 96-94 victory, their third straight of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.

Robert Bolick had 26 points and five assists as the Batang Pier improved to 4-3 in the standings, Sunday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga. Rookie forward Jamie Malonzo had 13 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists, and veteran Sean Anthony added 14 points.

NorthPort led by as much as 16 points but needed a tough defensive stand in the final minute to outlast the Road Warriors, who absorbed their third consecutive defeat in the conference.

"It's all team effort," said Bonnie Tan, who coached the Batang Pier for the third straight game as head coach Pido Jarencio remains in quarantine. "May mga assistant coaches naman ako, sila Kevin Ferrer and Sean Anthony. So they did a good job helping out this team na makatapos ng maayos."

NorthPort led by 14 points, 93-79, with under four minutes left when Don Trollano waxed hot for NLEX. He scored nine points in an 11-2 run that made it a five-point game, 95-90, with still 2:05 to play.

Both teams struggled for points in the final two minutes of the game, though a split at the line by Trollano with 53 seconds left made it a four-point game, 95-91. Fortunately for NorthPort, their defense held up in the final 30 seconds: Ferrer rejected Trollano on a triple attempt, and Malonzo blocked NLEX rookie Calvin Oftana's layup.

A free throw by Paolo Taha sealed the win for NorthPort, and though Kevin Alas banked in a three-pointer with a second to go, it was too little, too late for the Road Warriors.

"Inspired kami lahat maglaro dito dahil sa mga coaches namin," said Bolick. "Ang ganda ng line-up namin, siyempre ayaw din naman namin magpatalo, 'di ba."

The win allowed NorthPort to sweep all three of their games this past week, after not playing in the first week of the PBA's resumption in Pampanga due to the league's health and safety protocols.

NLEX, meanwhile, has dropped its slate to 4-5. The Road Warriors are currently tied with Phoenix Super LPG for the seventh and eighth spots in the league standings.

Trollano finished with 19 points, while Alas had 13 points, six assists, and five rebounds for the Road Warriors.