NorthPort had to sail through turbulent waters early on but recovered just in time as Arvin Tolentino steered his crew to an 87-81 victory over Blackwater to get back on the winning track in the 2022 Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Arvin Tolentino of NorthPort Batang Pier (PBA Images)

The Batang Pier bucked a slow start in the first half before finally finding their groove on both ends of the floor in the final two quarters with Tolentino dropping 10 of his 15 points during a searing 16-5 run in the final frame that keyed the victory, allowing NorthPort to hike its record to 3-2.

Tolentino also tallied six rebounds, two blocks and a steal while Prince Ibeh posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. A misfiring Robert Bolick was reduced to his playmaking role and referred to his teammates to finish with 12 points and 10 assists while Arwind Santos had 14 points and 10 boards including a gutsy step-back jumper that put NorthPort ahead by three, 84-81 with 1:04 left in the game.

While the Batang Pier came out with the victory, NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio wasn’t exactly pleased with the way his wards played especially after starting the game flat, trailing 8-0 early on.

“Ang nangyari kasi nung first half ang tamlay namin, defensively ang sama, yung offense namin ganon din, one pass one shot. Kinausap ko sila di tayo pwede manalo ng ganun. Although nanalo kami today hindi pa rin ‘yun ‘yung ineexpect kong laro, di pa rin kami consistent eh,” said Jarencio after the game.

“‘Yong consistency yung important we have to play defense all the way tapos yung offense namin darating yun. A win is a win I take this win kahit ganun ,siguro marami pa kami talagang kailangan iimprove, malayong malayo pa,” he added.

Fortunately for Jarencio, his wards woke up after his halftime pep talk as Tolentino, who struggled with only five points in the first three quarters, anchored the telling run in the final frame.

Still trailing by eight, 74-66 early in the payoff period, Tolentino scored on a triple and two free throws and Ferrer on a layup in transition to pull the Batang Pier within one, 74-73. Baskets from Troy Rosario and Mike Ayonayon kept the Bossing afloat but Tolentino and Santos joined hands in unleashing another 6-0 spurt that gave the NorthPort the lead for good, 82-79.

Cameron Krutwig had his best scoring game for Blackwater with 28 points while also pulling down 17 rebounds while Rosario also unloaded a conference-high of 17 points. Baser Amer had his share of the spotlight with 16 points as well but were not enough as the Bossing failed to follow up their stunning victory over the San Miguel Beermen last game and fell to a 2-3 record in the standings

Source: Manila Bulletin (