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MANILA, Philippines – Arvin Tolentino erupted for a PBA On Tour record-tying 41 points and anchored NorthPort to a 105-86 whipping of Phoenix at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig on Friday, July 14.
Tolentino caught fire on a cold, rainy day as he shot 14-of-22 from the field, including a fiery 7-of-11 clip from long range, as he equalled San Miguel guard Jericho Cruz for most points in a game in the preseason tiff.
Groomed by the Batang Pier to be their main man after the departure of Robert Bolick, Tolentino dropped 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a four-point play, before coach Bonnie Tan subbed him out with five minutes left.
“He wants to prove something. He got challenged after I told him last time to be consistent,” said Tan in a mix of Filipino and English.
“We need a leader. He wants to take that spot as a leader. I told him he has to perform every game consistently.”
It was still a tied game at the end of the opening period, 21-21, before Tolentino hit his groove, scattering 12 points in the pivotal second quarter as NorthPort entered the break up 53-44.
The Batang Pier gradually padded their lead and enjoyed a cushion that grew as big as 25 points, 94-69, off a Tolentino three-pointer.
JM Calma backstopped Tolentino with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals, while Paul Zamar delivered 14 points and 4 rebounds.
Fran Yu added 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals as NorthPort won back-to-back games to improve to 5-4.
Raul Soyud starred for the Fuel Masters, who absorbed their third straight loss and fell to 3-6, with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals off the bench.
Larry Muyang netted a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double in the defeat.
NorthPort 105 – Tolentino 41, Calma 21, Zamar 14, Yu 8, Santos 4, Munzon 4, Ayaay 3, Balagasay 2, Salado 2, Bauzon 2, Gabriel 2, Comboy 2, Olivario 0, Bulawan 0.
Phoenix 86 – Soyud 16, Lalata 14, Muyang 11, Jazul 11, Mocon 9, Tio 8, Camacho 6, Celda 5, Manganti 2, Alejandro 0, Garcia 0, Fetalvero 0, Atienza 0.
Quarters: 21-21, 53-44, 82-65, 105-86.