by Jonas Terrado
Games Friday (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. — San Miguel vs Blackwater
7 p.m. — Magnolia vs NLEX
NorthPort extended the best start in franchise history with seven players scoring in double figures after holding off Magnolia, 102-99, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Sean Anthony topscored with 22 points, including four straight free throws in the final 9.3 seconds left that sealed the Batang Pier’s fifth win in six outings while tying the Blackwater Elite for the top spot.
Paolo Taha had 16 points, Mo Tautuaa and Jonathan Grey added 14 points apiece, Nico Elorde scored 12 and rookie Robert Bolick and import Prince Ibeh added 11 and 10 points.
Though flashing a wide grin over the latest win, coach Pido Jarencio was left worried over the injuries that continue to plague the team.
Ace guard Stanley Pringle missed his second straight game due to a nagging problem on his right foot while Tautuaa hurt his knee and Elorde pulled his hamstring in the second half.
“The good thing is that the momentum is on our side,” said Jarencio.
Magnolia dropped to 0-2, spoiling the debut of new import James Farr who struggled with 11 points on a dismal 5-of-26 shooting.
Perhaps the effects of jetlag hounded Farr, who arrived last Monday after the Hotshots decided to replace John Fields following last week’s defeat to the Alaska Aces.
NorthPort led by a high of 16 points, 70-56, in the third and looked in control until the end when Magnolia threatened late when it pulled to only three, 98-95, with 35 seconds left.
Bolick missed a jumper but Grey grabbed the offensive rebound and Magnolia was fouled to twice foul Anthony, who nailed two freebies for 100-95.
Farr scored a tip-in and Anthony was fouled anew with less than three seconds left, hitting two more charities to seal the deal.
NorthPort 102 – Anthony 22, Taha 16, Tautuaa 14, Grey 14, Elorde 12, Bolick 11, Ibeh 10, Lanete 3, Gabayni 0.
Magnolia 99 – Sangalang 21, Herndon 18, Lee 16, Barroca 14, Farr 11, Jalalon 7, Brondial 5, Ramos 3, Melton 2, Dela Rosa 2, Pascual 0.
Quarterscores: 16-23, 48-43, 70-62, 102-99.