THE future looked bright for NorthPort when it ended 2019 with a semifinal appearance against Barangay Ginebra, the eventual champion of the PBA Governors’ Cup, one of their best finishes in franchise history.
But unfortunately, NorthPort fell to the bottom of the league in 2020 as injuries to key personnel and even a controversial play marred their disappointing year.
Here are the highlights and lowlights of NorthPort in 2020.
Standhardinger claims BPC
The calendar year began on a high note after Christian Standhardinger formally received his Best Player of the Conference trophy in the 2019 Governors’ Cup. It was a historic moment not just for Standhardinger but also for the Batang Pier being the first player from the franchise to win the award. The trophy was also on the heels of NorthPort’s run in the Governors’ Cup in which the Batang Pier edged top-seed NLEX in the quarterfinals.
The Batang Pier made moves in the lead-up to the 2020 season, first by acquiring former player Kelly Nabong from San Miguel in exchange for Russel Escoto. The trade came after Nabong got into a controversy when he got involved in a fight in practice that also had import Dez Wells, Arwind Santos, and Ronald Tubid as protagonists.
LA Revilla also joined NorthPort in a trade along with Rey Guevarra from Phoenix in exchange of Sol Mercado. Guevarra and Mercado, however, were not signed by their respective teams.
Robert Bolick recovers, but misses bubble
Following a long wait, NorthPort got some good news after Robert Bolick recovered from an ACL injury he sustained in a match against San Miguel in the 2019 Governors’ Cup. Bolick’s time on the court, however, had to wait as, to avoid the risk of reinjury, NorthPort decided last September not to include the former San Beda star to the bubble line-up for the Philippine Cup.
NorthPort’s campaign in the PBA bubble was a disappointment as after a relatively successful 2019 season, the Batang Pier ended the campaign in Clark with only a 1-10 record. The losses were compounded by injuries to the team led by Mythical Team winner Sean Anthony, who sustained a hamstring injury that kept him out for majority of the bubble.
The Batang Pier’s lone victory came at the hands of Terrafirma in a 107-96 decision but not after compiling four straight defeats to start the bubble campaign.
Ref sent home after NorthPort loss
One of NorthPort’s defeats in the bubble came in controversial fashion when the Batang Pier were handed with a 70-68 loss to Rain or Shine last October.
In that match, Rey Nambatac earned a trip to the free throw line in the dying seconds and the score nodded at 78 when he was able to draw a foul on Paolo Taha while driving to the basket. NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio was furious about the call to no avail as it fell to 0-3 to start the bubble.
The PBA later sent home referee Sherwin Pineda for the call as the league admitted he should not have blown the whistle on the crucial play.
For more PBA updates, click here.