By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
ACTION in the Philippine Basketball Association swings south of the metro today at the Mall of Asia Arena with a double-header featuring streaking teams Northport Batang Pier and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in one pairing.
Set for 4:30 p.m., Northport (5-1) and Rain or Shine (2-2), winners of their last two matches, try to extend their winning streaks and pad their push in the top half of the standings of the midseason PBA tournament.
Playing in the 7 p.m. nightcap, meanwhile, are the Meralco Bolts (3-4) and NLEX Road Warriors (0-6).
Northport has been off to a solid start thanks to a total team effort as contributions for the squad continue to pile up from different directions.
The most recent of the Batang Pier’s victories was on June 12 over the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 102-99.
Seven players finished in double figures in said game, led by Sean Anthony with 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, five steals and four assists to earn player of the game honors.
Paolo Taha had 16, Mo Tautuaa and Jonathan Grey 14 each and Nico Elorde 12 points.
Rookie Robert Bolick had 11 points and nine assists while import Prince Ibeh had 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Northport struggled early in the contest but picked things up as the game progressed, especially in the middle quarters, en route to outlasting the Hotshots, who made a last-ditch effort to snatch the win.
“The players are really stepping up and delivering. Everybody is doing their share. Not just one, two or three of them. It’s all of them,” said Northport coach Pido Jarencio in describing what has been doing it for them in the ongoing tournament.
Incidentally, Northport was involved in a trade with the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings yesterday.
The team sent star guard Stanley Pringle, and reportedly its first-round pick in this year’s draft, to the Kings in exchange for Sol Mercado, Kevin Ferrer and Jervy Cruz.
Before being traded, Mr. Pringle saw limited timed in the Commissioner’s Cup after undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle.
Trader papers were being sent to the Commissioner’s Office as of this writing.
Rain or Shine, meanwhile, is now on the upswing after winning back-to-back following a 0-2 start to their campaign.
The Elasto Painters beat the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters in their last game, 89-82, in a game where they turned things around in the second half to pull the rug from under their opponents on their way to their second straight win.
Import Denzel Bowles showed the way for Rain or Shine in the victory, finishing with 28 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.
The win was in follow-up to their 104-81 win Barangay Ginebra.
In the second game, meanwhile, Meralco looks to halt a two-game losing streak while NLEX tries once again to book its first win after six futile attempts to date. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo