Rookie Mike Nieto scored 21 points in an impressive debut as Rain or Shine clobbered winless NorthPort, 104-90, Saturday, Feb. 12 in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Nieto had an instant impact after becoming the first player from the Gilas Pilipinas round of the 2019 draft to sign with his PBA team, helping the Elasto Painters snap a two-game skid in their first game since the season-ending conference resuimed.
The former Ateneo mainstay set the tone for his impressive opening act as a pro by knocking his first shot, a three from the left side of the arc, before finishing the game going 8-of-17 from the field with eight rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Rain or Shine improved to 3-3 after dropping its last two assignments against Magnolia Pambansang Manok and TNT prior to the postponement of the elimination phase due to last month’s COVID-19 surge.
“Our sense of urgency coming in this game was big. You get too far down, it’s hard to climb up specially our schedule doesn’t get any easier,” said Rain or Shine coach Chris Gavina.
ROS, which played without Rey Nambatac due to a mild knee sprain, remained in eighth spot behind 3-2 teams San Miguel Beer, Alaska and Phoenix Super LPG and barely ahead of 2-3 TNT and 2-4 Terrafirma, which earlier won over Blackwater.
Four other players scored in double figures, with import Henry Walker putting up 17 points while adding 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Norbert Torres came off the bench to produce 12 points and six rebounds while rookie Anton Asistio and veteran Gabe Norwood added 11 and 10 points.
Debuting import Jamie Artis and Kevin Ferrer, who signed a two-year extension before the resumption, produced 23 points apiece but the Batang Pier fell to a 0-5 record.
Rookie Jamie Malonzo had 13 points and seven rebounds while Arwind Santos added 11 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks but those numbers were not enough for NorthPort.
NorthPort’s defeat came on the day it announced that rising superstar Robert Bolick signed an extension amid reports of offers to play overseas.
Bolick, however, didn’t suit up for the Batang Pier but is expected to return next week against the Meralco Bolts.
RAIN OR SHINE 104 — Nieto 21, Walker 17, Torres 12, Asistio 11, Norwood 10, Mocon 8, Caracut 7, Ponferada 5, Borboran 4, Santillan 4, Belga 3, Jackson 2, Guinto 0, Tolentino 0.
NORTHPORT 90 — Artis 23, Ferrer 23, Malonzo 13, Santos 11, Sumang 6, Rike 5, Balanza 3, Taha 3, Doliguez 2, Cruz 1, Abundo 0, Subido 0, Dumapig 0.
Quarters: 25-22, 51-40, 79-64, 104-90.