B-Pier, KaTropa try to sustain hot starts

NORTHPORT and Talk ‘N Text — two of the hottest teams in the PBA – play separate rivals today as they seek to gain a share of the lead in the Commissioner’s Cup that’s rich in surprises so far.

The Batang Pier take on Magnolia in the first game at 4:30 p.m. while the KaTropa clash with Barangay Ginebra in the main offering at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

As luck had it, the Batang Pier and the KaTropa scored big victories last time around and both came at the expense of All-Filipino champion San Miguel Beer.

The Batang Pier routed the Beermen, 121-88, last June 5 in a victory where Prince Ibeh had 18 points and 11 boards and got all the needed support from his local teammates led by Robert Bolick who finished with 25 points.

Then, the KaTropa followed suit on June 8 to become the latest nemesis of the Beermen whom they beat, 110-97, behind Terrence Jones’s remarkable game highlighted with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Both NorthPort and TNT are gunning for their fifth wins that will enable them to catch up with surprise leader Blackwater which regained the top spot at 5-1 after beating NLEX last June 8, 132-106.

On the other hand, their opponents both lost in their last outings. The Hotshots lost badly to Alaska, 103-80, last June 5, while the Gin Kings absorbed a humiliating 104-81 spanking from Rain or Shine last June 7 as surprising trend in the elimination round of the midseason conference went unabated.

The Batang Pier have been giving much premium on defense, knowing full well most of the teams have become offense-oriented in the import-laced conference.

“Remember, this is an import-laden tournament. Pero naili-limit namin ang kalaban in the 80s,” said NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio, who had to rely on limited rotation.

“Maigsi ang rotation, pero ang importante sumunod kami sa game plan. Sabi ko lang pagpasok sa court kailangan aggressive kami and we keep on attacking,” added Jarencio.