Robert Bolick scattered a game-high 26 points in leading NorthPort to a 117-91 drubbing of hapless Blackwater last night in a match opening up their campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Leyte-born No. 3 pick overall in last month's draft, who reportedly played well in practices and in two tune-up games, immediately took the lead for the Batang Pier and chipped in his share when the likes of Sean Anthony, Paolo Taha and Stanley Pringle got going.
As a result, the Batang Pier took control for good right in the second quarter and posted as much as a 111-82 spread before completing the emphatic start to their bid to bounce back from a seventh-place finish in the same tourney last season.
Taha wound up with 21 points, one off his career-high, Anthony added 19 points, five rebounds and as many assists and Pringle 16 points, seven boards and five dimes.
Abu Tratter came off the bench to notch 18 points and eight rebounds and Roi Sumang added 16 for drastically re-tooled Blackwater, but the expected help from the other players, except for a brief period in the first half, did not materialize.
Allein Maliksi could only come up with 13 points while Mike Digregorio, Blackwater's top local scorer last season, was only good for five points on 2-for-11 shooting.
In contrast, sophomore Lervin Flores got a rare start and delivered a career-best 12 rebounds and was there on the court when NorthPort opened up the fourth quarter with a 14-1 run to pad an 88-75 lead and practically settle the issue right there.
Even reliever Bradwyn Guinto chipped in 12 points and six rebounds while Mo Tautuaa bucked early foul trouble to finish with 11 and five.
Vital in San Beda's runs to the last three NCAA titles, the 23-year-old guard scored 12 of his points in the first half and fed Pringle for a booming triple that stretched NorthPort's lead to 55-48 at the half.
Still, it was the team veterans who led the Batang Pier's fightback from as many as 12 points down, with Anthony scattering eight points in the second period and Taha and Mo Tautuaa combining for 18 markers.
Sumang led Blackwater's early surge by connecting on his first three shots from deep and led the team's rise from the depths of an early 3-13 hole.
The likes of Paul Desiderio and Mac Belo did their part in helping the Elite grab the upper hand and posting leads of 38-26 and 40-28.
It's just that Blackwater couldn't sustain its run for long in the face of NorthPort's own pressure.
It didn't hurt the Batang Pier any that after 10 turnovers in the opening quarter, they committed just three in the next 12 minutes to the Elite's seven.*pba.ph
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