FOR several years, NorthPort was a revolving door of players coming and going due to trades. In the deals the team was involved in, the Batang Pier were most of the time conduits to sister teams who are not allowed to trade directly with each other. Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle also represented as the most constant presence in the team after being drafted in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
This conference, however, the trades seem to have been finally paying off with NorthPort on a roll in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup with the Batang Pier occupying either one of the top two spots during the major part of the conference.
Of course, another big factor for NorthPort’s rise this conference is the play of their import Prince Ibeh, who has been a perfect fit for the Batang Pier as the team’s perennial rebounder and rim protector.
There’s no denying, though, that most of their players who were culled through trades have been big reasons for the team’s steady play in the Commissioner’s Cup.
Acquired in a trade for Romeo in 2018, Mo Tautuaa is having one of his best seasons in his career with the Batang Pier. The Fil-Tongan, drafted number one by TNT in the 2015 draft, averaged 18.36 points and 8.82 rebounds for his team during the elimination round of this year’s Philippine Cup, and was even a candidate for Best Player of the Game honors.
Tautuaa is once again headed for another solid conference in the Commissioner’s Cup as through nine games, Tautuaa is averaging 15.33 points and 8.67 rebounds, including a career-high 34 points in a game against Rain or Shine this conference.
Sean Anthony, meanwhile, continued to galvanize the Batang Pier with his all-around play in the Commissioner’s Cup. A key piece to a four-team trade involving sister teams NLEX, TNT, and Meralco in 2016, Anthony is again showing consistent numbers for NorthPort with his 16.67 points, 7.33 rebounds, 3.89 assists, and 2.44 steals through nine games in the Commissioner’s Cup.
Also part of that 2016 deal with Anthony in which NorthPort gave up JR Quinahan and Anthony Semerad was Jonathan Grey, who turned out to be another asset for the Batang Pier in past conferences before going down with a serious knee injury.
A 2018 trade that sent Julian Sargent to Barangay Ginebra for Paolo Taha has also worked wonders for NorthPort. With him getting acclimated to more minutes for the Batang Pier, Taha is averaging nine per game in scoring but is also unheralded with his energy and defense on the floor.
Garvo Lanete is also having a good conference after being traded from Meralco to NorthPort early this year with the former San Beda star regaining his shooting touch by scoring 8.25 points through eight games and converting 16 threes, second only to the 20 of Robert Bolick this conference.
Recently, the Batang Pier once again pulled off another trade by dealing away Pringle to Barangay Ginebra for three players – Kevin Ferrer, Sol Mercado, and Jervy Cruz. Despite criticisms on the trade, NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio insisted the trade was fair as the Batang Pier got quality players that will shore up their depleted roster hounded by injuries.
So far, the three have not let Jarencio down.
The three had impressive outings in their first match against Blackwater with Ferrer scoring 23 points, and Cruz contributing 16 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Mercado added 14 points in the Batang Pier’s 127-99 win over import-less Elite although the team finally fell at the hands of Phoenix Pulse last Friday for their second loss in the conference.
It is certainly exciting times for NorthPort, but the question now is can the Batang Pier sustain this run and reach deeper into the playoffs like the time the team reached the semifinals of the 2016 Philippine Cup.
We will see.