MANILA, Philippines–NorthPort survived Terrafirma, 108-103, to get off its PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign on the right foot Friday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.
Import Venky Jois poured 43 points that went with 10 rebounds, three steals and a block to also help the Batang Pier continue their mastery over the Dyip.
“This is the first time Venky played as an import in Asia. He has played in Europe, so I challenged him to get us to the win,” coach Bonnie Tan said of his Aussie reinforcement, who also had three steals and a block to his name.
Jois also got help from the locals, with Cornerstone and Asian Games champions Arvin Tolentino, Joshua Munzon, and Paul Zamar all finishing with double-digit scores.
NorthPort played catchup in the first two frames and then cranked it up after the halftime break. Vois put the Batang Pier up 99-98 with 3:40 left in the final frame and never looked back.
Rookies Cade Flores, Fran Yu, and Brent Paraiso all made their presence felt, chipping in at least five points in the wind that should please Tan as they brace for a quick turnaround.
NorthPort battles Rain or Shine this Sunday in Antipolo.
“We wanted to get this statement win because this team has gone through changes in the lineup. We just wanted to win. Even if it was a single point, or 10 points, we wanted to get that first win to set the tone,” Tan said.
Juami Tiongson had 21 points for Terrafirma, while Thomas de Thaey chipped in 20 more. Javi Gomez de Liaño finished with 17 points while top rookie pick Stephen Holt had 12 points in what turned out to be an underwhelming performance for a prospect hailed for his rich overseas experience.
The Dyip, which have dropped their seventh-straight conference opener, will try to rebound against a seemingly rejuvenated Blackwater Wednesday next week.