MANILA, Philippines -- NorthPort guard Robert Bolick received an early birthday present on Sunday night, after the Batang Pier held off the NLEX Road Warriors for their third straight win in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
Bolick, who turns 26 on Monday, fittingly scored 26 points along with five assists, as the Batang Pier completed a busy week that saw them win three games in a four-day span
"Binigay lang talaga namin 'yung best namin," said Bolick, who is now averaging 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game for the Batang Pier. "Gusto naming manalo para sa mga coaches namin, sa mga pamilya namin, friends, loved ones."
"Sila ang nagi-inspire sa amin dito," he added.
Bolick won't deny that he and his teammates are feeling exhausted. The Batang Pier didn't play in the first week of the PBA's resumption due to the league's health and safety protocols, and so their schedule last week was packed.
Indeed, they played on back-to-back days, having beaten TerraFirma 104-84 on Saturday before returning to face NLEX 24 hours later.
"Lahat kami, pagod din. Siyempre, walang pahinga," said Bolick.
It doesn't help that they are once again playing in unique circumstances, as the PBA is holding its games in a "semi-bubble" in Pampanga. Games are held at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, and teams return to their hotels afterward.
"Sanay kami dati na 'pag after game, makikita namin ang mga pamilya namin, nakakanood kami ng mga gusto namin, nasa bahay," said Bolick. "Pero ngayon, pag-uwi, dito kasama namin 'yung mga kabilang family naman namin sa team."
As difficult as the situation is, Bolick said it also inspires them.
"Gusto namin umangat ngayong conference na 'to. Ito 'yung madami kaming magandang pieces ngayon. Solid 'yung mga performance namin, hindi lang sa akin," said Bolick, highlighting the defense played by Nico Elorde and the contribution of rookie star Jamie Malonzo.
"Sobrang nakakataba ng puso 'yung mga players namin, na nakikita mo nagta-trabaho, gustong manalo," he added. "So as one of the leaders sa team, siyempre gusto mo din makita 'yun eh. So inspired kami lahat na nandito."
Team manager Bonnie Tan, who has called the shots for Batang Pier for the last three games, was glad that they could give Bolick an early birthday gift.
It's also more reason to celebrate for the Batang Pier, who rose to sixth place in the PBA standings with a 4-3 win-loss record and are in the thick of the hunt for a playoff spot.
"First two wins, wala kaming celebration. Sunod-sunod 'yung mga laro," noted Tan, who took over as interim coach while Pido Jarencio was in quarantine.
"But tonight, for sure, we'll have some great food," he added. "Kasi one thing na hindi sinasabi ni Berto na nagmo-motivate sa atin ngayon dito is… birthday kasi ni Berto tomorrow, so ito na 'yung birthday gift namin for Berto."