Robert Bolick tied a career-high with 26 points on the eve of his 26th birthday as NorthPort held off NLEX, 96-94, Sunday, Sept. 12 for its third straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Bolick highlighted another huge game by erupting for 17 in the third quarter that saw the Batang Pier pull away and eventually complete the first week since their Bacolor stint was delayed due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
But the Batang Pier had staved off a late rally by the Road Warriors, who were led by Don Trollano, to claim the second game of a rare back-to-back after their 114-92 rout of the Terrafirma Dyip.
NorthPort, which played without center Greg Slaughter due to hip problems, climbed to sixth spot at 4-3 after a remarkable run that came without coach Pido Jarencio and his staff who spent the week recovering from COVID-19.
“It’s all about team effort. They did a good job na matapos natin tong week ng maayos,” said NorthPort team manager Bonnie Tan, who handled the sidelines in Jarencio’s absence was also aided by some players who took the responsibility of calling plays like veteran Sean Anthony.
Bolick went 10-of-20 from the field on his way to equaling his 26-point performance which came during his first PBA game back on Jan. 16, 2019 when NorthPort posted a 117-91 win over Blackwater.
He also added three rebounds, five assists and two steals to lead NorthPort while rookie Jamie Malonzo had 13 points, 14 rebounds and five assists despite having little opportunities to show his dunking prowess like he did against Terrafirma.
Anthony put up 14 points and three steals, Paolo Taha scored 12 of his 14 in the first half and Sidney Onwubere made seven of his ninth points in the fourth quarter.
With Bolick scoring 13 in the first five minutes of the third, NorthPort turned a 48-45 halftime lead into a 65-49 advantage, though NLEX was able to slice the deficit in half and trailed 73-65 entering the fourth.
But the shooting of Onwubere and Kevin Ferrer enabled NorthPort to restore order in its favor and led by 15 twice in the payoff period before Trollano unveiled four triples that put NLEX behind 95-90 with 2:01 to go in the contest.
Trollano could have made it a one-possession game with 53.1 left but made just one of two foul shots for 95-91 NorthPort as NLEX missed multiple threes against a Taha free throw before Kevin Alas converted a last-ditch rainbow attempt that settled the final score.
The 19 points of Trollano didn’t prevent the Road Warriors from absorbing their third straight loss to slip in a tie for eighth with the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters at 4-5 with two games left in the eliminations.
NORTHPORT 96 — Bolick 26, Taha 14, Anthony 14, Malonzo 13, Onwubere 9, Ferrer 8, Lanete 5, Grey 5, Elorde 2, Balanza 0, Rike 0.
NLEX 94 — Trollano 19, Alas 13, Cruz 10, Semerad 10, Porter 10, Oftana 8, Miranda 7, Semerad 5, Paniamogan 5, Soyud 4, Ighalo 3, McAloney 3, Ayonayon 2
Quarters: 29-26, 48-45, 73-65, 96-94.