NORTHPORT believes it has a better chance at beating San Miguel than the last time they faced each other in a playoff series.
SMB vs NorthPort playoff preview
That happened in 2019 when the Batang Pier and the Beermen clashed in the Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals with the latter holding a twice-to-beat incentive for finishing second in the elimination round.
But with the experience playing a huge factor, the Beermen overhauled that advantage by the Batang Pier to win, 98-84 and 90-88, that proved to be the first step towards another crown for the squad.
For this year’s collision, however, head coach Pido Jarencio thinks NorthPort now has a shot at defeating San Miguel in a series that this time will be a best-of-three in the quarterfinals after wounding up at fifth and fourth respectively after the eliminations.
“’Yung materyales namin, medyo may kulang pa noon that time hindi katulad ngayon,” Jarencio admitted. “In all position, meron tayong pangsabay kaya I think the difference is more talent.”
The biggest difference to that NorthPort line-up of two years ago is Greg Slaughter. Acquired in a trade with Ginebra, Slaughter has thrived with the Batang Pier in terms of being a threat in the paint, whether on the scoring end, rebounding, and defense.
Jamie Malonzo is also one of the new faces for NorthPort after being selected second overall in the recent PBA draft. Aside from being a scoring threat, Malonzo is also using his athletic ability on the defensive side of the ball.
“’Yung team dati, medyo may kulang pero at least, nandoon. We are fighting up to the end nung natalo kami sa San Miguel. This year, iba ‘yung team. Iba ‘yung composition. This is more competitive than the last time that San Miguel beat us,” said Jarencio.
Robert Bolick said the current NorthPort line-up is a much more experienced bunch that has learned over the course of the past few seasons from disappointments.
“At least, natutunan namin kung paano ‘yung laro kapag quarters,” said Bolick, referring to the Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal defeat. “Ngayon, maraming players dito na nakapag-champion na sa amin. Sila Greg, sila Kevin (Ferrer). Siguro ‘yung youth namin, advantage din ‘yun.”
Amidst the new-look NorthPort squad making waves this conference, Bolick made it clear that San Miguel will always be a threat despite a promising team that the Batang Pier have.
“Grabe ‘yung experience nila kasi ang dami nilang championship. Hindi lang ‘yung team pero ‘yung mga players [may experience]. It will be a good match-up for us lalo sa akin,” said Bolick.
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