NorthPort Batang Pier: Undermanned but mighty

NorthPort Batang Pier: Undermanned but mighty

NorthPort has been stellar this far in the PBA Commissioner's Cup. Jade Moya
By Xy-Zha Cabanlong

QUEZON CITY - For the past 6 games, NorthPort has struggled in terms of having fit players on its roster.

At the moment, four players, including the newly-acquired Mike Miranda, have yet to see action, leaving only nine players on rotation who all have a big responsibility of stepping up.

"Ang concern ko ngayon is injuries. Nico Elorde, tignan natin kung ano mangyayari, pulled hamstring ata yung bata. Mo Tautuaa, medyo na-ano yung tuhod. Iyon ang concern ko ngayon, more on injuries," Coach Pido Jarencio said at the post-game press conference, after a win on Wednesday night.

Should Elorde and Tautuaa need to sit their injuries down come the next game, Batang Pier's list of 100 percent fit players on their roster will be limited to only 7, perhaps 8 if either Miranda or Pringle comes out of the injury list.

"Ang hirap sagutin yung kay Pringle. Siguro yung PT (physical therapist) na lang namin o yung doctor na lang namin sa team, at the same time yung bata na rin makakasagot kung kailan sya makakalaro, kung kaya na nya or pwede na sya.

"Basta lahat yung mga taong wala dyan [sa game] hindi ko masasagot. Yung management na lang [ang tanungin] kasi I'm not in the position to answer those things kasi kung sino dumatinf sa akin at nandyan, okay kami. Hindi ko alam ano usapan doon," Jarencio added.

As of this writing, NorthPort has taken the solo lead in the standings with a 5-1 win-loss slate. 

The impressive performance of NorthPort by far seems to show they are not bothered by injuries, proving also that they can win even in the absence of some key players.

However, this kind of performance cannot be attributed to their import, Prince Ibeh alone.

NorthPort is on top because of team effort.

"Robert Bolick has been stepping up in the absence of Stanley Pringle, being a stabilizer on offense," Sean Anthony said.

The rookie has been a constant contributor for the Batang Pier since he was picked from the draft, proving he was worth the choice for the team.

There was never a game that Bolick did not score for North Port. Even at that loss to Ginebra, Bolick's performance was notable.

Then there are those unsung heroes who delivers when they are asked to deliver - Jonathan Grey for example, who has been quite a revelation in the three recent games of North Port. The shooting guard scored in double figures, making important passes and taking important shots.

"Sa players ito. It's a total team effort and players stepping up dahil wala yung ibang players. Naka-focus sila. They just want to go to, not just the semis, but syempre sa taas," Jarencio narrated.

The absence of some players due to injuries compelled Jarencio to make us of short rotation, something that seems to be working out well for his wards.

"[It is] effective in a sense na yung player steps up. Kung maliit ang rotation mo pero ang players hindi nag step up, problema pa rin. Ang maganda, short rotation, yung players nagde-deliver, they are doing their share. Hindi isa o dalawang tao kundi lahat tumutulong, iyon ang importante.

"Like si [Paolo] Taha, making that three point shot, ang bigat nun considering na kapapasok lang din nya. Yung ibang players nag-step up kaya short rotation maganda as long as your players deliver. Pero kung kung short rotation tapos hindi nagde-deliver, ang susunod na hahanapin mo, nasaan yung ibang player, maghahanap ka talaga. For now, masaya ako dahil lahat tumutulong, they are doing their share. Lahat are doing their roles and they are following my instructions. Yung game plan sinusunod nila," Jarencio explained.

Speaking in behalf of the rest of his teammates, Anthony mentioned that their stellar performance in the conference is a mix of continuous learning and trying to make up for their mistakes from the previous conference.

"We're still learning a lot. We don't want to get too excited or peak too early. We're judt trying to make sure that we take the lessons to learn in each game," Anthony said.

NorthPort is fully aware that if they continue to show grit and walk away with a win against their opponents, they could also be title contenders.

In fact, they may have already etched that statement when they handed San Miguel Beermen their worst loss in recent history.

But Jarencio is quick to not let it get on his players's heads and reminding them to take everything a game at a time.

"Basta kami, one game at a time. We are setting goals, may plano, then players responding makes a positive result," he further said.

Winning 5 games out of 6 against teams that has a deeper pool of players to utilise in a game makes North Port a darkhorse each time they step unto the hard wood.

It will not be a surprise if they end up winning their last games on hand, prior to the semis.

The next assignment for the Batang Pier is up against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Wednesday.

Follow her on Twitter: @_ichbinxyzha

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