MANILA – Hopes of a streaking NorthPort side of catching the last playoffs bus in the PBA Governors Cup gained a timely lift following another pair of victories behind the giant efforts of the returning Robert Bolick.
Fresh from his stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the Manila qualifiers of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the slick-shooting guard came back with a bang as the Batang Pier downed Blackwater and Terrafirma one after the other, to stretch the team’s winning streak to five games and shore up its post-season drive.
The gunner out of San Beda did it all behind an impressive near triple-double average of 25.5 points, 11.5 assists, and 9.0 rebounds in guiding NorthPort inside the Top Eight with an even 5-5 card entering the homestretch of the eliminations.
The performance earned Bolick the Cignal Play-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week citation for the period March 2 to 6.
Bolick bested the likes of June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel, and the NLEX pair of Kris Rosales and Kevin Alas for the weekly honor being handed out by the men and women covering the PBA beat.
“Kailangan ko talaga bumawi sa team kasi nanalo sila ng dalawang mabibigat na laban (I have to make up for the team because they won two important games),” said Bolick, who missed NorthPort’s massive wins against league-leader Magnolia and fellow playoff hopeful Phoenix Super LPG due to his duty with the national team the past week.
“Happy na happy ako na binigyan nila ng life ‘yung team namin. ‘Yung 0-5, ‘yung ibang team, puwedeng bumigay eh. Pero hindi kami. Nagbago na mentality namin. Dumating si Kuya Arwind (Santos), may winning culture. Kailangan namin ‘yun. Akala ng iba, wala na kami. Pero eto kami, lumalaban kami (I’m very happy that we got new lease of life. The 0-5 for others are hopeless. But not us. The arrival of Arwind changed our mentality because of his winning culture that we need. From nothing, we are now fighting),” he added.
Bolick certainly made up for his brief absence, exploding for 30 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals in the Batang Pier’s 116-103 win over Blackwater last Wednesday.
The 26-year-old cager then turned to a crafty facilitator the next game, dishing out 17 assists on top of his 21 markers, seven boards, and three steals in a 124-117 comeback win by the Batang Pier over Terrafirma after trailing by as many as 19 points.
The 17 assists by Bolick is also a career-high and the most by any player since Kiefer Ravena had the same assists output in NLEX’s 113-111 overtime win over Barangay Ginebra in the 2019 Governors’ Cup in Dubai.
Bolick likewise averaged 3.0 steals during the same playing period.
Coach Pido Jarencio said Bolick’s return could not have come at a better time for the team, which completely seeks to turn things around by making the playoffs after a lifeless start at 0-5.
Northport has one more game remaining in the eliminations against TNT on Friday.
“Berto is Berto. He is the heart and soul of the team. Blessing na nakabalik na siya. Tutulungan na niya tayo at tutulungan na niya kami sa run namin. Malaking bagay si Berto (His return is a blessing. He helps us make a run. Berto is a big asset to the team),” Jarencio said. (PR)