ITS three newest acquisitions immediately made an impact for NorthPort Saturday.
It didn't hurt any that Blackwater caught a very bad break. in the Petron Blaze Saturday Special.
The result was the Batang Pier traipsing to a cruising 127-99 victory over the hard-luck Elite that gave the former a share of the loftiest spot in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Kevin Ferrer and Jervy Cruz both wound up with personal season-highs of 23 and 16 points, respectively, while Sol Mercado could only tie his with 14 in their first game for NorthPort since coming over from Barangay Ginebra in the Stanley Pringle trade last Tuesday.
Sean Anthony added his usual double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds while Robert Bolick narrowly missed a triple double with 16 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists in propping the Batang Pier's charge to a 7-1 slate and a tie with idle TNT at the top of the standings.
Helping along NorthPort's cause is the failure of Jameel McKay, a last-minute replacement for Blackwater's original import Alex Stepheson, to get his FIBA clearance in time that forced him to sit the game out. He is sure to play in Blackwater's next game on July 5 against Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok.
In the meantime, playing and losing for the second game without an import, the Elite dropped to a 5-3 record.
Bobby Ray Parks led the losing cause with a gamehigh 25 points and 11 rebounds with Rabeh Al-Hussaini adding 16 points and Mike Digregorio 10 points and as many dimes.
"We dominated the rebounding tapos we were making our shots. Nakakatakbo kami kasi nga may import tayo," said Batang Pier coach Pido Jarencio.
"Hats off din doon sa Blackwater, kahit papaano lumaban naman. Ang kulang lang talaga 'yung tulong lang kasi nga wala silang import. Malaking bagay din import, eh."
Jarencio added that some credit should also be given his team as it remained locked in on its bid to snag a top two finish in the eliminations and get rewarded with a win-once advantage in the quarterfinals.
"Basta kami we just take care of business," stated Jarencio. "Basta every game ang goal namin to be in the top two para makuha namin iyung twice-to-beat advantage."
Jarencio was obviously pleased with the performance of his three new players who seemingly seamlessly blended well with his regulars.
"Sinabi ko naman sa inyo, makakatulong 'yung tatlo," said Jarencio. "Nakita natin tumulong. Kahit papaano gumanda rotation natin."
Ferrer, who averaged just 3.6 points for Ginebra in the tourney, picked up from where Anthony and Cruz left off, scattering 19 of his points in the fourth quarter that fully turned the game into a rout before Mercado boomed in a triple that pegged NorthPort's biggest lead at 119-83, only 3:40 to go.
Anthony, Garvo Lanete and Prince Ibeh first ran rampant in the third period, enabling the Batang Pier to lead by 22 points thrice, the last at 73-51, before settling for an 86-65 spread going to the final canto.
Anthony, Cruz and Paolo Taha were the main men for NorthPort in their decisive break from the game's last deadlock at 19-all and into as much as a 44-28 lead before sitting on a 54-39 cushion at the break.