NORTHPORT Batang Pier is looking to perform well and achieve better results when the 45th season of the PBA resumes with its pandemic-disrupted conference next month.
NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio and team manager Bonnie Tan hope the return of Robert Bolick and two other injured key players can boost the Batang Pier’s chances in the restart.
As the No. 8 seed, Batang Pier reached the semis of the season-ending conference last year by shocking top seed NLEX twice in the quarterfinals befroe eventually losing to Barangay Ginebra.
“We performed very well last year, so we are hoping to do the same in the coming conference,” said Jarencio during the 12th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom.
Jarencio, who was appointed as head coach of NorthPort in 2014, said the team is raring to get back into serious practice once the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) thru the PBA, allows the teams to practice.
“Ang ipinagdadasal talaga namin ngayon ay makapag-ensayo na muli ng 5-on-5 at maibalik na ang kundisyon ng mga players. Kailangan makuha uli namin yun rhythm, yun timing after seventh months. We have to be on the same page,” explained Jarencio during the weekly forum sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“This will be a short conference. Sa tingin ko, kung sino yun pinaka well-prepared, well-conditioned na team yun ang mananalo dito,” added Jarencio, nicknamed the “Fireman” during his playing days in the PBA.”
Tan, for his part, said Northport surpassed expectations in the season-ending PBA Governor’s Cup despite playing with a depleted line-up.
“We’re hoping na mas mag-improve pa kami lalo na kung buo at kumpleto na uli ang line-up,”said Tan, also the head coach of reigning NCAA champion Letran Knights.
Tan said Bolick, Jonathan Grey and Bradwyn Guinto should make the team even better.
He said Bolick went down with an ACL injury early in the Governors Cup, Grey suffered a tear in his right patellar tendon in June 2019, while Guinto’s knee injury kept him on the sidelines for most of last season.
The indefinite suspension of the PBA season due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last March gave the three injured players enough to time to recover.
“Kumpleto na kami ngayon kahit sa ensayo, kaya excited na ang lahat. Even coach Pido (Jarencio) is also excited na for the coming conference,” explained Tan.
Both Jarencio and Tan lauded the PBA for the plan to create an NBA-style bubble to ensure the safety of everyone.
“Full support tayo dyan. Matagal-tagal na din na walang PBA at gusto na ng mga tao na makapanood ng games,” said the 56-year-old Jarencio.
Asked about the proposal in the PBA to introduce the coaches’ challenge policy being used in the NBA now, Jarencio said he sees no problem in adopting it in the pro league.
“If the PBA will approve it (coaches challenge), no problem. Pero kung makatatagal nga ito sa flow ng game, pwede din wag na lang,” said Jarencio.
Jarencio also refused to comment on the coaching controversy involving his former school, University of Santo Tomas.
“Ang masasabi ko lang ngayon ay dapat ang kunin ng UST na bagong coach ay yun talagang mahal ang UST,’ said Jarencio, who is still widely considered as one of the greatest players to don the UST uniform.
Aside from Jarencio and Tan, the other guests present during the weekly sports forum were 2019 Southeast Asian Games wushu double gold medalist Agatha Wong, Milo Sports Executive Luigi Pumaren, Milo BEST Center vice president Monica Jorge and Milo Ambassador Kiefer Ravena and Blood Runner Multi-Sports founders Joel and Josephine Sabile.
The weekly TOPS “Usapang Sports” is being streamed live on Sports on Air YouTube and Facebook pages.