Resurgent NorthPort pumps life to playoff hopes with big win over Blackwater

The Batang Pier continues to cling to its new-found lease on life.

Kevin Murphy posts career-highs on scoring, rebounds and steals to lead NorthPort to another victory (PBA Images)

Kevin Murphy fired an all-around career-high performance as NorthPort pumped some more life to its playoff hopes with a crucial 110-104 victory over also-ran Blackwater in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 25.

The Batang Pier import scattered 46 points, 16 rebounds and four steals -- all of which are his new PBA career-highs -- to steer NorthPort to its second straight victory and stay in hunt for a spot in the playoffs with their 2-6 record.

Robert Bolick also added 24 points including a dagger triple and a pair of free throws that denied the Bossing a chance for comeback, sending them stumbling to their eighth straight defeat for a 1-9 slate.

Interim head coach Bonnie Tan is crediting his team's developing familiarity with each other and the system as factors to NorthPort’s sudden resurgence.

“This is our second straight win. At least we’re going up, hindi yung going down na patapos na ‘yung liga, so familiarity kasi sa isa’t-isa and adjustment sa game plan sa team. Yun lang yung pina-practice namin going into the game so sana pataas pa,” said Tan.

The Bossing actually led by as many as 13 points, 62-49, early in the third frame but they just couldn’t hold on to the lead as Murphy dropped 21 of his total in the second half while Bolick backstopped him with 14 points.

It was even a tight ball game with both teams tied at 100-all with 1:49 left in the contest. A Murphy jumper triggered a deciding 8-1 spurt that allowed them to build a 108-101 lead with 23 seconds remaining.

Jvee Casio tried to keep the Bossing alive with a triple, but Bolick proved to be steady at the foul line, drilling two more free throws that ultimately sealed the deal for NorthPort.

Shawn Glover paced Blackwater with 20 points and nine rebounds while Gab Banal who exploded for 13 points in the second quarter where the Bossing built a sizable lead wound up with 19. Casio added 14 while Mike Ayonayon contributed 12 which all went for naught in the end.