WITH an ace local player who's playing like an import, NorthPort seeks to get going, gunning for win No. 3 versus a TNT side that's smarting from a sorry downfall in its conference debut.
The Batang Pier and the Tropang Giga clash at 6:45 p.m. at the Philsports Arena in Pasig, with much attention on Robert Bolick following back-to-back career-high outings making him the No. 3 guy in the PBA Commissioner's Cup scoring ladder.
Bolick scored 21 points in their 92-89 win over Phoenix Super LPG, poured in 33 in their 105-104 loss to Bay Area then sizzled hotter with 44 markers in their 101-95 overtime victory over Meralco.
The 6-foot-1 guard hailed their import Prince Ibeh as the real difference-maker in what they've done so far in the tourney.
And he's not about to look far ahead.
"Si Prince lang talaga eh. Siya kasi yung anchor sa depensa namin. Dahil sa kanya, ang daming nali-libre, daming nababakante. Siya talaga yung malaking rason bakit maganda pag nandyan siya," said Bolick.
"At ayaw ko muna magsalita ngayon (on what I see down the road), na-ni-jinx. Dati kasi parati kaming 2-0, tapos six-game losing streak ang kasunod. A game at a time na lang kami. Pero sana tuloy-tuloy," he added.
The immediate goal is a second straight win against the Tropang Giga who must be aching for a rebound from a 94-92 heartbreaker versus the Magnolia Hotshots Wednesday.
Led by Cameron Oliver's 43-point PBA debut, the Tropang Giga took control most of the way only to crumble at the finish even with the Hotshots playing without an import in the final 6:40 of the game.
The game looked headed for extra time but Calvin Oftana was called for a reaching foul on Paul Lee in the last four seconds. Lee calmly sank both charities, and the Hotshots escaped with a third straight victory.
The Tropang Giga were left stunned and disappointed.
Coach Chot Reyes and team manager Jojo Lastimosa protested the call, and even approached the referees at the end of the game, causing them hefty fines.
Botched was a chance to win the game even minus injury-hit stars Jayson Castro and Mikey Williams and a number of TNT reserves.
The team is still likely to play with a crippled lineup as the Tropa try to rebound from their loss to the Hotshots. (SB)