NorthPort and Alaska deliver conference-opening losses to PH Cup Finalists

The Philippine Cup Champs looked rusty and the NorthPort Batang Pier took advantage. NorthPort dominated the San Miguel Beermen, 121-88, cruising to the top spot in the standings. The Batang Pier take a share of the number one seed at 4-1 while the Beermen start off the conference at 0-1.

The Batang Pier were shorthanded, playing without their star point guard Stanley Pringle along with other key bench players. But that didn’t matter as Robert Bolick stepped up to lead the team. The rookie came off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 25 points. Six other players got to double figures to help carry the load.

Prince Ibeh had 18 points and 11 boards. Garvo Lanete and Jonathan Grey both scored 16. Mo Tautuaa, Nico Elorde and Sean Anthony combined for 32 points. Charles Rhodes led San Miguel with 27. Only two other Beermen got to double figures.

The Batang Pier took over in the second quarter as Ibeh and Bolick got hot. Ibeh dominated the paint while Bolick dropped bombs from beyond the arc. NorthPort took a 13-point lead heading into the half.

NorthPort broke the game wide open in the third period. They exploded for 37 points in the third period while limiting San Miguel to only 22. It was a total team effort as the Batang Pier didn’t go for a monster run. Instead it was waves of multiple baskets in a row that led to their lead. Three straight free throws from Grey gave them a 20 point lead.

That was followed by a 10-0 run from Bolick, Anthony and Tautuaa to push the advantage up to 30. The Batang Pier fended off the Beermen in the fourth period, leading by as much as 38 points to secure the win.

In the first game, the Alaska Aces also upended a finalist from last conference. Alaska easily took down the Magnolia Hotshots 103-80. Magnolia also starts off like San Miguel at 0-1 while Alaska stays in the middle of the pack at 3-2.

The Hotshots were still rusty after a long layoff and the Aces took advantage of the loose defense to get the win. Alaska shot 50% from the field and dropped 14 three-pointers on the Hotshots. The #WeNotMe Alaska system was in full effect as they assisted on 31 of their 43 made field goals. In contrast, Magnolia was only able to hit 38% of their shots.

Chris Daniels led Alaska with 27 points, going 4/4 from beyond the arc. Jvee Casio added 17 points on three triples while Jeron Teng had 12, hitting both of his attempts from beyond the arc. Ian Sangalang came off the bench to score 17 points to lead Magnolia.

Alaska unloaded on Magnolia in the middle quarters. Casio scored eight straight points, built on two triples to lead the Aces to a double-digit lead in the second period. Teng added his own five-point flurry to build a 12-point lead heading to the half.

In the third period, Daniels caught fire. He scored eight points in a 16-4 blast that helped Alaska build a 22 point lead. Daniels sparked the run with back-to-back three-pointers while Simon Enciso added two triples during the same stretch. Daniels closed the quarter with a five-point run to lead Alaska to a 25-point lead. The game was pretty much over at that point.