MANILA, Philippines – After five straight losses to start the 2022 PBA Governors’ Cup, the NorthPort Batang Pier are finally in the win column after outgunning the Meralco Bolts, 109-98, on Thursday, February 17.
It is no coincidence that this breakthrough win also came alongside the return of the team’s floor general Robert Bolick, who dropped 22 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals in a staggering 44-minute run.
NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio breathed a sigh of relief after the game, and was obviously pleased that a number of the team’s issues are finally moving past them.
“At least we got the monkey off our backs. It’s tough to recover from down 0-5, so I said to them, it’ll be difficult if we go 0-6,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. “I think this is the time to start winning.”
Prior to the Governors’ Cup restart, problems were piling on for the Batang Pier after Bolick, Paolo Taha, and Greg Slaughter put up a long fight in the free agency negotiation table.
Bolick has since rejected reported overseas offers, most notably from the Japan B. League, and reignited his commitment to help out the franchise that introduced him to the pro ranks.
Despite currently juggling his PBA duties with his commitment to Gilas Pilipinas, the fiery San Beda alum is now all business on the court after all the paperwork has been signed and sealed.
“I don’t care that we were 0-5. We just want to win, and we did that,” Bolick said in a mix of English and Filipino at the walk-off interview. “We are winners. That’s the culture we want to build in NorthPort, that winning mentality. We got the first win. Hopefully, we continue with more.”
Of course, Bolick’s trademark fire is all well and good, but he still will have to miss games if he more than likely gets chosen for the final 12 Gilas players who will play in the second window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asia qualifiers this February 24 to 28.
But for Jarencio, what matters is that his prized ward is back as a Batang Pier, and that he and the franchise will support Bolick all throughout his current national team stint.
“Maybe we’ll just get a clone of Robert. Maybe we’ll just make (Jerrick) Balanza whiter,” he said in jest.
Turning serious, he added, “That’s a call, national duty. You can’t say no to the national team because you’re representing the country. The management will support Gilas.” – Rappler.com