PBA Philippine Cup

Deep rotation: Bench mob shows up as NorthPort earns back-to-back wins

Delfin Dioquino

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Deep rotation: Bench mob shows up as NorthPort earns back-to-back wins

REBOUND. Cade Flores in action for the NorthPort Batang Pier in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

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NorthPort scores a league season-high 88 bench points as the Batang Pier outlast debuting Phoenix in the PBA Philippine Cup

MANILA, Philippines – Anyone can deliver for NorthPort.

And the Batang Pier showed that on Friday, March 8, when their bench players accounted for over two-thirds of their scoring output in their 124-120 win over debuting Phoenix in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.

Rookie forward Cade Flores and the rest of the NorthPort bench scored a league season-high 88 points as the Batang Pier claimed back-to-back wins for a 2-1 start in the prestigious All-Filipino tournament.

“We have the luxury of players who can score, who can deliver, and who can finish. I’m just happy that we were able to capitalize on the distribution of the points,” said NorthPort head coach Bonnie Tan.

Flores showed the way for the bench mob with 21 points on a near-perfect 8-of-9 shooting to go with 12 rebounds, scattering 10 timely points in the fourth quarter as the Batang Pier warded off the Fuel Masters’ comeback.

The game marked Flores’ second straight double-double performance, but the former Arellano standout said he is not about personal milestones.

“I do not really play for achievements,” said Flores. “All I care about is winning. Whatever I can do, whether it is defense or working up a certain player, I’ll do it.”

Another rookie shone for NorthPort as No. 5 pick Zavier Lucero put up 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks as a reserve, while starters Joshua Munzon and Arvin Tolentino fired 17 and 15 points, respectively.

Jeff Chan added 17 points, Fran Yu posted 13 points, and Paul Zamar added 11 points as five of the seven Batang Pier players in double-figure scoring came off the bench.

“The second unit is very crucial for a very young NorthPort team because we’re still looking for our identity,” said Tan.

Allyn Bulanadi, who scored 6 points as part of that bench mob, gave the Batang Pier their biggest lead of the game at 90-76 late in the third quarter before Phoenix stormed back.

The Fuel Masters chipped away at their deficit and knotted the score at 113-113 off a Javee Mocon layup with three minutes remaining.

Yu, Tolentino, and Lucero, though, kept NorthPort afloat as they knocked down key free throws and field goals down the stretch.

Jason Perkins finished with 28 points and 7 rebounds to pace Phoenix, while Tyler Tio recorded 19 points and 4 assists before getting sidelined with a left foot injury midway through the fourth quarter.

The Scores

NorthPort 124 – Flores 21, Lucero 18, Munzon 17, Tolentino 15, Yu 13, Zamar 11, Bulanadi 6, Calma 2, Rosales 2, Paraiso 2,8Adamos 0, Amores 0, Cuntapay 0.

Phoenix 120 – Perkins 24, Tio 19, Jazul 15, Rivero 13, Tuffin 11, Manganti 9, Mocon 8, Soyud 4, Daves 4, Alejandro 3, Muyang 2, Garcia 2, Camacho 2, Lalata 0, Verano 0.

Quarters: 35-25, 61-52, 90-80, 124-120.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.