MANILA, Philippines – The NorthPort Batang Pier bucked a slow start in their 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup debut to earn a 92-89 escape against the shorthanded Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday, September 21.
Robert Bolick likewise started slowly, but eventually led the team with 21 points and 6 assists on 8-of-17 shooting and 4-of-9 threes – none bigger than his late corner long bomb with 12 seconds left off a pinpoint Roi Sumang feed to give the 92-89 lead.
Sumang, on the other hand, paved the way for Bolick’s last three by dropping 5 straight points to tie the game at 89 and make the bulk of the Batang Pier’s final 11-2 run. The former UE star finished with 15 points on an efficient 6-of-8 clip with 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
Not to be outdone, Arvin Tolentino had a debut game to remember as well with a statsheet-stuffing line of 16 points, 7 assists, 5 boards, 4 blocks, and 2 steals in 36 minutes off the bench, just a day after getting traded from Ginebra.
With the loss, Javee Mocon saw his monster double-double of 24 points and 13 boards go to waste as Phoenix bore the brunt of losing top star Jason Perkins to injury and veteran Matthew Wright to free agency and eventually the Japan B. League.
NorthPort faces a huge challenge on Saturday, September 24, as it faces the mighty Bay Area Dragons – which destroyed Blackwater by 46 in the first game – at 4:30 pm still at the MOA Arena.
Meanwhile, Phoenix will aim to rebound that same day at 6:45 pm against Blackwater, which is set to parade top trade acquisition Troy Rosario for the first time in a Bossing uniform.
NorthPort 92 – Bolick 21, Ibeh 19, Tolentino 16, Sumang 15, Santos 10, Balanza 6, Ferrer 3, Salado 2, Dela Cruz 0, Chan 0, Calma 0, Taha 0.
Phoenix 89 – Mocon 24, Wesson 14, Serrano 10, Tio 10, Jazul 7, Camacho 7, Muyang 6, Lalata 4, Garcia 4, Rios 3, Lojera 0, Adamos 0, Robles 0.
Quarters: 12-28, 37-37, 61-65, 92-89.