PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Unsung hero Ibeh draws praise from Bolick, Jarencio after stellar COVID rebound

Delfin Dioquino
Unsung hero Ibeh draws praise from Bolick, Jarencio after stellar COVID rebound

SHOT BLOCKER. Defense is the calling card of NorthPort import Prince Ibeh.

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NorthPort import Prince Ibeh hosts a block party as he shows no rust in a comeback win over Meralco, just days after a bout with COVID-19

MANILA, Philippines – There is Robert Bolick, the man of the moment, and there is import Prince Ibeh, the unsung hero.

Bolick hailed Ibeh for his defensive efforts that enabled NorthPort to hack out a come-from-behind 101-95 win over Meralco in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday, September 30.

While Bolick owned the spotlight after posting a career-high 44 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds, he believes Ibeh also deserves credit for his stellar job on the less glamorous end of the court.

The British-Rwandan reinforcement finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 blocks as the anchor of the Batang Pier defense.

“I feel that I should not have been the Best Player of the Game. For me, it should have been Prince,” Bolick said in a mix of Filipino and English.

“Without his presence down low and without his defense, we would have lost,” Bolick added. “He gets hurt but he keeps on fighting.”

But more than the defense Ibeh provides, Bolick praised his big man for his even-keeled approach.

While other imports need the ball on their hands to make an impact, Ibeh sticks to his strengths – shot blocking and rebounding.

For comparison, Bolts reinforcement Johnny O’Bryant finished with a monster double-double of 30 points and 22 rebounds, but he shot 38 times and missed 26 field goals.

Ibeh, on the other hand, went 4-of-6 from the field.

“He is a nice import. He does not ask for the ball, you will not hear him shout. He will even tell you to shoot the ball and he says that he will take care of the rebound,” Bolick said.

“Everything starts with him.”

What made Ibeh more impressive is the fact that he did not practice with the team for almost an entire week in the run-up to the Meralco match as he tested positive for the coronavirus.

NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio bared Ibeh only tested negative for the virus a day before the game against the Bolts.

“[Prince] showed how professional he is, that he will help the team,” Jarencio said.

“He is an import who does not need the ball. He does not fight with his teammates for the ball. He is a team player. He’ll do his job aggressively and with commitment.”

Off to a 2-1 start, the Batang Pier hope to replicate their success in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup, where they secured the second seed in the playoffs with Ibeh leading the way.

“We started this conference with a goal. We have a goal because we have Prince Ibeh,” Jarencio said. – 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.