Robert Bolick and Roi Sumang took charge in crunchtime as NorthPort completed its comeback from 19 points down to come away with a 92-89 victory to open their 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign on a winning note on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
The Batang Pier went on an 11-2 run orchestrated by Sumang who either scored or assisted on NorthPort’s last three baskets to take the come-from-behind win.
Trailing by six, 87-81, in the final two minutes of the game, NorthPort’s new acquisition Arvin Tolentino triggered the run with a booming right wing triple before Sumang delivered a floater and another long bomb to put the Batang Pier on the driver’s seat, 89-87, with 40 seconds left.
Two Tyler Tio free throws tied the knot at 89-all but Sumang issued a perfect cross court pass that landed on Bolick who then drilled the dagger trey with 12 second left.
Bolick finished with 21 points and six assists while Sumang provided ample support with his 15 points, five rebounds and three assists. Prince Ibeh announced his return with NorthPort with double-double display of 19 points and 15 rebounds while Tolentino chipped in 16 points, seven assists, six boards and four blocks.
NorthPort actually had to buck some first game jitters in the opening frame where they found themselves trailing by 19, 26-7 as the Fuel Masters leaned on the explosive start from Javee Mocon and import Kaleb Wesson.
The Batang Pier however got their bearings going in the second quarter as Tolentino scored nine of NorthPort’s 25 points, equalling the output of the entire Phoenix team in that frame to tie the game at the half, 37-all
Phoenix looked good in its first game in the post-Matthew Wright era as young guns in Tio and Encho Serrano made solid contributions in the second half that allowed the Fuel Masters to take a double-digit spread early in the final frame. Phoenix, however, relaxed in the towards the waning minutes as it fell prey to the clutch duo of Sumang and Bolick in the end game.
Mocon led the way for Phoenix with 24 points while Wesson added 14 points and 15 rebounds which went for naught as the Fuel Masters committed a crucial turnover in the final possession that could have given them a chance to send the game to an extra period.