Not long ago, NorthPort was having a breakthrough as the team went closer to reaching the championship round.
Twice in the quarterfinal round, the eighth-seeded Batang Pier defeated then No.1-ranked NLEX Road Warriors to make it to the Final Four of the 2019 Govenors' Cup. The season also saw Christian Standhardinger and Sean Anthony crack the Mythical Five.
The 6'4" veteran Anthony was also named the Defensive Player of the Year, while Standhardinger emerged as the Best Player of the Conference of the Governors' Cup.
One bad conference wiped out those good memories as the Batang Pier were ushered to the exit door early in the elimination round of last year’s bubble tournament.
The team even lost its most important player — Standhardinger — who was traded for seven-foot slotman Greg Slaughter.
Good or bad, all of these are history now as NorthPort is determined to bounce back strong this season.
The off-season movements coupled by the promising picks and the return of its young star point guard, Robert Bolick, could change the fortunes of this squad this coming PBA season.
Looking at NorthPort, it looks like the team has become more formidable and balanced.
Imagine a starting unit composed of Slaughter at center, Anthony and Kevin Ferrer at forwards and rookie Jamie Malonzo and returning Bolick at the guard spots. These make the Batang Pier a more versatile, more balanced and lengthy first five.
Slaughter brings the inside presence this team lacks. Anthony and Ferrer bring toughness at the forward spots and Malonzo, a 6'5" player, is an athletic stud that could provide athleticism and create mismatch problems against smaller guards.
Bolick, returning from an injury after more than a year, may be well-rested and eager to get back into action. He’s also more matured now and ready to keep a hold of this team. Except for Bolick, no player in that starting squad stands 6'4" and below and the Batang Pier could take advantage of that.
Off the bench, the team has dependable players like Garvo Lanete, new acquisitions Sydney Onwubere and Clint Doliguez, who were picked up by the squad in a trade involving Bradwyn Guinto, Nico Elorde and rookie Troy Rike, among others.
This is a new and improved NorthPort team that is ready to sail on for another possible playoff run. It has size, athleticism, shooting and depth. It’s simply a no nonsense squad.
If ever this team can stay healthy, the Batang Pier can give every team a run for their money.