After the PBA Season 46 draft wrapped up, hoop fans knew right away that the NorthPort Batang Pier got themselves a nice haul with second overall pick Jamie Malonzo and 11th pick Troy Rike.
Although their talent did not immediately manifest in their franchise-worst 63-point debut outing against the Meralco Bolts, they came back in emphatic fashion with a 115-79 burial of the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Wednesday, July 21.
Rike, a former US NCAA and UAAP stalwart, erupted for 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from downtown, including four straight long bombs that all but secured the win early in the fourth quarter.
The high-flying Malonzo, meanwhile, flexed his two-way potential with 15 points, 9 rebounds, and a game-high 4 blocks.
For now, head coach Pido Jarencio could not ask for more from his young guns, especially after a blowout that occurred without newcomer big man Greg Slaughter.
“Actually Troy and Jamie for me, I really expect that they will step up. That’s why we got them in the draft,” he said. “Troy has a decent shot from three points.”
Aside from Rike and Malonzo, four other NorthPort key cogs found their shooting touch in a game that saw Phoenix miss its first 20 triples.
Key returnee Robert Bolick flirted with a triple-double of 20 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds, while Kevin Ferrer also added 20 markers off the bench. Sidney Onwubere and Paolo Taha, meanwhile, had 15 and 12 points, respectively.
“It started with the defense and then they got their flow,” Jarencio continued. “I’m so happy with those players, with Troy, Jamie, Sidney, Clint [Doliguez], our new guys. They’re here to help us.”
It has only been one win so far, but the results have been promising for the loaded NorthPort crew.
The Batang Pier have a shot for a repeat performance against an even more loaded club, the CJ Perez-led San Miguel Beermen on Sunday, July 25. – Rappler.com