TWO streaks came to a stunning end on Thursday with NorthPort winning its first game after six starts and Meralco absorbing first loss in five games in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Bolts started strong and led by as many as 19 points in the first quarter only to wilt against a spirited Batang Pier attack in the third quarter to yield and hand NortPort a 109-98 victory.
“Most of our losses are heartbreaking,” NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio said. “I’m happy that our import has started to blend well with his teammates so there’s a little bit of chemistry now.”
NorthPort was 0-5 won-loss with Cameron Forte as import until Jarencio sent him home in favor of Jamel Artis.
Artis shot 8-of-13 from the field to finish with 26 points with eight rebounds, four assists and three steals, an effort that complimented Robert Bolick, who returned to the team on a short contract extension and was efficient all over the court to finish with 22 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three steals.
Meralco jumped to a 30-11 lead but saw its advantage slowly melt against an aggressive NorthPort play behind Artis, Bolick, Arwind Santos and Jamie Malonzo.
They cut their deficit to only two points at the half and were fearsome in the third quarter where they outscored the Bolts, 34-14.
The Batang Pier never looked back after that with Artis, Santos, Troy Rike and even Roy Sumang making rings around the Bolts defense to hold on to the win.
Santos had a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Malonzo added 14 points, Jerrick Balanza scored 12 points and Troy Rike had 10 points.
Tony Bishop led Meralco with 34 points and 15 rebounds and Chris Banchero added 23 points.