'Balanced' Batang Pier keep winning: 'Everyone's stepping up big'
MANILA, Philippines—NorthPort has been on a fabulous run in the first half of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup with a 5-1 record and the Batang Pier appear to be just getting started.
The Batang Pier rose to first-place tie with Blackwater slipping past Philippine Cup runner-up Magnolia, 102-99, Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum in a game that forward Sean Anthony can’t help but rave about.
“Everyone’s stepping up big. I think again tonight we had more than five guys in double figures, so it’s a balanced scoring attack,” said Anthony, who led the Batang Pier’s offense with 22 points while tallying eight rebounds, four assists, and five steals.
A total of seven players from NorthPort notched at least 10 points in what Anthony described as a testament to the team’s concerted effort to fill in the absence of Stanley Pringle.
Pringle, the league’s reigning scoring champion, is still recovering from a foot surgery.
Paolo Taha had the second-best scoring night for the Batang Pier with 16 points while Jonathan Grey and Moala Tautuaa both had 14 points.
Nico Elorde pitched in 12 points for NorthPort while rookie guard Robert Bolick had 11 points, five rebounds, and nine assists, and big man Prince Ibeh finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks.
“To see everyone with a balanced attack, everyone touching the ball, it makes the game so much easier because you just make the right play and find the right guy. The guys are making up and making big shots,” said Anthony.
NorthPort’s balanced scoring wasn’t the only thing that Anthony, the league’s second-leading scorer in the Philippine Cup averaging 20.7 points a game, marveled at.
Anthony also liked the fact that his teammates remained composed amid the Hotshots’ fourth quarter run.
Elorde gave the Batang Pier a 75-62 lead early in the fourth but only for Magnolia to pull within three, 98-95, after Justin Melton’s free throws with around 35 seconds left.
Thankfully for NorthPort, Anthony was able to sink his own charity shots to give his team a 100-95 cushion with less than 10 seconds to play.
“We kept our composure, we executed, we did the things we needed to do to get the stops and got the right play,” said Anthony. “I guess our growth is being able to close out the games with those leads now. We were getting early leds last conference but we weren’t closing out games.”