Defense became the ultimate key to NorthPort’s 115-79 victory against Phoenix in its second game in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on Wednesday, July 21.
Batang Pier star Robert Bolick and coach Pido Jarencio were in unison on that note, stressing that defense paved the way for them to convert the huge lead as soon as the second half started.
“Defense,” said Bolick. “Sabi nga ni coach Pido ‘di namin kaya ‘pag offense to offense lang. Nag-usap kami tapos focus kami [on our] couple of practices puro kami depensa talaga.
“‘Yong offense nga namin ‘di namin natrabaho, talagang nag-focus kami… nakita naman ngayon. Grabe depensa namin. Sana magtuloy-tuloy pa rin,” added the former San Beda stalwart, who posted 20 points, shooting seven-of-14 from the field and three-of-five from beyond the arc, with 11 assists seven rebounds and a steal.
NorthPort outrebounded Phoenix with 61 boards against 53. Both teams have a fair share of turnovers but the Fuel Masters also capitalized on their 10 steals compared to the Batang Pier’s two.
But with NorthPort’s pesky defense, Phoenix only shot 26-of-67 from the field (38%) and had a palry 5-of-30 shooting from beyond the arc.
Jarencio noted that the defensive stops led to the Batang Pier’s good shooting, especially when they caught momentum in the third period.
The former University of Santo Tomas tactician also explained that the Batang Pier badly wanted to redeem themselves from the shameless loss against the Meralco Bolts, 85-63, last July 16 and the 1-10 record they had during the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup bubble season.
“Unang mindset going into the season, ang sama ng record namin sa bubble. Then may mga new guys na dumating. Sabi ko lang sa kanila with this composition, mas magiging competitive tayo,” said Jarencio.”Then masyadong disappointment ‘yong first game namin. We set the record with the lowest scoring yata sa PBA, at the same time sa percentage,” he added, considering it as the “ugliest game in the PBA by far.”
NorthPort only shot 12-of-48 from the field (25%) and five treys out of 33 attempts (15%) that night.
“So ginawa lang namin, we fixed one thing — defense na lang. Sabi ko ayusin natin depensa natin. Actually, we had a whole session, kinausap ko mga players and then nag-concentrate kami sa defense and we set our rules on defense. Then sabi sabi ko sa kanila, on defense, if we make stops, darating ‘yong offense natin.
“Then we can get our claw on offense. So it all started on defense and the players are so responsive. Nakita naman natin. For me, this will be our game, more on defense and then ang offense darating na lang,” adde the 56-year-old Jarencio.
Jarencio added that the team would allot three to four hours of practice for the last three days heading into Wednesday’s match. And thanks to the scolding of their bosses, Jarencio and the Batang Pier did not disappoint this time.
“‘Yong mga players nga medyo baba na mga tuka pero sabi ko, we have to sacrifice. Sabi ko matagal na rin naman kayo nagbakasyon, edi ngaoyn tayo magtrabaho.”