By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE Northport Batang Pier’s strong start in the PBA Philippine Cup continued on Sunday as they raced to their second straight victory in as many games with a 95-90 win over the NLEX Road Warriors at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Forced to a battle of attrition by the Road Warriors, the Batang Pier kept their composure throughout the match and delivered the needed goods down the stretch to keep an unblemished record early in the season-opening PBA tournament.
The contest got off to a nip-and-tuck start with the two teams fighting to an 11-10 count, and NLEX on top, midway into the opening quarter.
Northport would outlast NLEX for the remainder of the first period to hold a 25-22 advantage.
The back-and-forth did not relent in the second quarter as both the Batang Pier and Road Warriors try to establish momentum.
But they would hardly make significant headway in their respective push, separated by the just two points, 48-46, in favor of Northport, at the halftime break.
Forward Sean Anthony and guard Nico Elorde would lead the Batang Pier to a strong start in the third canto only to be countered by the Road Warriors to temper their effect.
The score was at 60-all at the 4:04 mark of the quarter.
Northport though remained on top heading into the final canto, 71-70.
Guard Stanley Pringle opened things in the fourth quarter with four quick points to help Batang Pier to a 75-70 lead with less than a minute lapsing from the frame.
JP Erram would help NLEX to keep in step after, before Northport made another attempt to create further separation, racing to a five-point cushion, 86-81, with 5:49 to play.
The two teams continued to jostle thereafter but the Batang Pier would prove to be steady, holding a 92-87 advantage with less than two minutes left.
NLEX tried to claw their way back but back-to-back errors inside the last minute and timely baskets by its opponent doomed its charge back and the team slumping to the defeat.
Mr. Anthony led Northport to their second win with 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists and seven steals while Mo Tautuaa had a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Rookie Robert Bolick struggled with seven turnovers but still finished with 14 points.
Mr. Erram, meanwhile, paced NLEX with 19 points with JR Quiñahan adding 18 markers.
“We’re just playing as a team, coming together and being cohesive. We have been picking each other up. Coach challenged us to want it more and we need to response every game,” said Mr. Tautuaa, named co-player of the game with Mr. Anthony, after the game.
Northport (2-0) next plays on Jan. 25 against Columbian Dyip while NLEX (0-2) battles the TNT KaTropa on Jan. 23.