NORTHPORT had perhaps its best year in the PBA since its inception in 2012, following two memorable playoff appearances in 2019. The Batang Pier also made deals in 2019 that also helped the team create those playoff runs this year.
Here are the top moments of NorthPort in 2019.
NorthPort grabs second seed in Commissioner’s Cup
The Batang Pier had their best conference in their franchise history, at least in the elimination round, after they took the second spot in the quarterfinals with a 9-2 card, thanks also to the play of import Prince Ibeh, Stanley Pringle, Robert Bolick, Sean Anthony, and Mo Tautuaa. Their title hopes, however, was thwarted by Philippine Cup champion San Miguel, which despite being the seventh-seed overcame a twice-to-beat disadvantage to defeat the Batang Pier.
Rise of Bolick
In 2019, NorthPort saw a new player that can lead the team into the future in the name of Robert Bolick. The former San Beda cager quickly became the star of the Batang Pier particularly in the Commissioner’s Cup where the rookie had a Player of the Week accolade and a game-winner for NorthPort when he hit the marginal basket for their 93-92 win over Meralco that capped the elimination round.
Bolick’s play also got him a spot with Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Basketball World Cup where the NorthPort rookie was one of the most consistent performers in the national team’s last place finish in the competition.
Bolick’s rookie year, however, was cut short after he sustained an ACL injury that sidelined him the rest of the season.
It was also an end of an era for NorthPort after the Batang Pier traded their longtime star Stanley Pringle to Barangay Ginebra in exchange of Sol Mercado, Kevin Ferrer, and Jervy Cruz last June. Pringle has been one of the constants of the Batang Pier since becoming the first overall pick of the team in the 2014 draft.
The wheeling and dealing wasn’t done for NorthPort following the Pringle trade as the Batang Pier made another big move, sending Mo Tautuaa to San Miguel in exchange of another first overall selection in Christian Standhardinger last October. The Fil-German proved to be an excellent fit for NorthPort in its campaign in the Governors’ Cup.
Batang Pier stun NLEX
In one of the biggest turnarounds in recent memory, the Batang Pier advanced to the semifinals despite being the eighth-seeded team in the quarterfinals, beating top-seed NLEX twice to pull off the upset. In the knockout game, NorthPort needed three overtimes before defeating NLEX, 126-123, in one of the classic games of the year, with Standhardinger finishing with 33 points and 23 rebounds in 51 minutes of play.
The Batang Pier though lost in the semifinals against Barangay Ginebra, but the quarterfinal upset was only the fourth time an eighth-ranked team beat the top-seed in the current playoff format of the league.