NorthPort trips Blackwater

NorthPort is slowly but surely proving that it is more than just a Robert Bolick-led team.

Arvin Tolentino, one of the key additions to the squad this conference, proved it to everyone.

The player acquired as part of the multi-player trade involving Jamie Malonzo responded to the challenge and delivered the much-needed baskets to lift the Batang Pier to an 87-83 squeaker over Blackwater in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Tolentino, the 6-foot-4 swingman is one of the four players picked up by the Batang Pier in the trade that sent Malonzo and Von Pessumal to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

Veteran shooting guard Jeff Chan, guard Kent Salado, and big man Prince Caperal were the other key acquisitions of the Batang Pier in unloading the athletic Malonzo, but it was Tolentino who immediately got himself immersed in the system of Pido Jarencio at NorthPort.

“Since Day 1, when I got traded, I already got settled with NorthPort,” said Tolentino, who finished with 15 points, on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, while also adding six rebounds.

“My mindset, my mentality, I shifted it to NorthPort, the day I got traded. It’s hard to dwell on the reasons why you got traded. It was Coach Pido who told us that he likes us to be on the team.”

Jarencio gave his rationale on why he decided to bring in a player like Tolentino.

“We lacked good-looking players,” Jarencio said in jest.

Turning serious, Jarencio is a firm believer that Tolentino as well as the three other players they have picked up in the Malonzo trade will make key contributions for the Batang Pier.

Jarencio was in a good mood that he had already patched things up with his coaching counterpart, Ariel Vanguardia of Blackwater.

In their only meeting last conference, Jarencio confronted Vanguardia after he called a timeout in the dying seconds with the match practically settled by the Bossing.

But Jarencio dismissed thoughts of having ill feelings towards Vanguardia.

“Both of us just wanted to win, so emotions got the best of us,” Jarencio added.

Tolentino provided the balance and the added firepower the Batang Pier needed.

He was one of the five players who ended up in double figures for NorthPort, which improved its win-loss record to 3-2, while dealing Blackwater its third loss in five games.

Import Prince Ibeh and veteran Arwind Santos each ended up with a double-double performance.

Ibeh had 19 points and 10 boards while Santos came away with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and hit a crucial jumper that gave NorthPort an 84-81 lead with 1:04 left in the game.

Jerrick Balanza contributed 13 markers and Bolick produced 12 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds and kept a hold of the Batang Pier all game long with his solid playmaking.

The scores:
NorthPort (87) — Ibeh 19, Tolentino 15, Santos 14, Balanza 13, Bolick 12, Ferrer 7, Taha 3, Caperal 2, Sumang 0, Salado 0.
Blackwater (83) — Krutwig 28, Rosario 17, Amer 16, Ular 8, Ayonayon 7, Suerte 4, Taha 2, Banal 1, Jackson 0, McCarthy 0.
Quarters: 16-22; 37-42; 64-68; 87-83.

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