The defending champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel defeated the NorthPort Batang Pier, 115-100, to stay lossless in the ongoing 2023 PBA Governors' Cup on Friday, February 10.
Late in the third quarter, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel managed to tie the game at 69-apiece after Jamie Malonzo split his free throws. The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the NorthPort Batang Pier then exchanged buckets after another until Nard John Pinto and Stanley Pringle's back-to-back three points built Barangay Ginebra San Miguel's six-point lead, 79-73, coming into the last quarter of the game.
In the fourth quarter, the NorthPort Batang Pier ran out of gas as Aljon Mariano, Jamie Malonzo, and Jeremiah Gray contributed to most of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel's points in that quarter. In fact, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel had their biggest lead, 110-91, in the fourth quarter.
NorthPort Batang Pier's new import Kevin Murphy tried to close the gap, but it was already overwhelming for him as the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel sealed the deal on Jamie Malonzo's dunk, 115-100.
Jamie Malonzo led the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with a double-double performance with 28 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists while import Justin Brownlee had his second triple-double of the conference with 22 points, 15 rebounds, and 12 assists.
Nard John Pinto proved to be the spark off the bench with 18 points while Jeremiah Gray and Aljon Mariano had a combined 28 points.
For the side of the NorthPort Batang Pier, their new import Kevin Murphy had an impressive debut this season with 38 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. The returning Robert Bolick contributed 30 points and five rebounds while Joshua Munzon added 12 points and seven boards.
With the win, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel stayed undefeated with a 3-0 win-loss record while the NorthPort Batang Pier stayed winless at 0-5.
PBA Recap: Barangay Ginebra Dominates Attacking, Defending Departments
Just by looking at the statistics, it was clear that Barangay Ginebra San Miguel had an advantage in their game against the NorthPort Batang Pier. The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel had a 48% field goal efficiency compared to 43% of the NorthPort Batang Pier.
The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel had a 63% two-point field goal efficiency in 31 out of 49 attempts, and a 29% three-point efficiency in 11 out of 39 attempts. In comparison, the NorthPort Batang Pier had a 55% two-point field goal efficiency in 32 out of 58 attempts, and 20% three-point field goal efficiency in a dismal six out of 30 attempts.
The defending PBA Governors' Cup also dominated the paint with 58 points, four more compared to NorthPort Batang Pier's 54. They also had more second-chance points with 20, higher than NorthPort Batang Pier's 14.
However, the NorthPort Batang Pier led in the points from turnovers with 23 compared to just nine points of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. The bench of NorthPort Batang Pier also contributed greatly with 41 points against the 32 points of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel's bench players.
The defending PBA Governors' Cup champions also recorded 54 rebounds and 30 assists, much higher compared to NorthPort Batang Pier's 40 rebounds and 14 assists. The main story of the evening was the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel's block with six, with Jamie Malonzo credited for four, compared to just one of the NorthPort Batang Pier.
PBA Highlights Today: Robert Bolick to Give Everything After Contract Negotiation
For the first four games of the NorthPort Batang Pier, one important issue was surrounding the team as the contract of ace player Robert Bolick was set to expire on January 31, 2023.
Before the two parties agreed to a one-conference deal, there have been rumors that Robert Bolick would be taking his talents to Japan, Korea, or even Taiwan.
"You all know that I have a responsibility to this team. NorthPort drafted me and my rights are here. My heart is to play for them until my contract expires," he said after their loss to the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
"It's just that it happened when I'm about to expire. That's how it is with contracts. Even in the NBA, or whichever league, job. Just because two sides talked, doesn't mean everything's well and good. There's a series of talks. Our bosses here at NorthPort are busy and they have big businesses."
Despite their still winless campaign, Robert Bolick still hoped they can turn the season around, and even reach the finals.
"We still have a season in spite of a 0-5 record. We've been here before and we turned it around. We're not going to give up just yet. We hope to give coach Bonnie Tan a proper season because he deserves it," he said. NorthPort Bonnie Tan used to be the team manager of NorthPort Batang Pier before his ascension as the team's head coach.
"We just fell short this time. We're just hoping to be more fluid by the next game. Our import just arrived with one, or two practices under his belt. Over on the other side, they have Justin, and they've been together for quite some time.
"We want to win. We don't have any other mindset. We want to reach the quarters, the semis. Hopefully, the finals. We're allowed to dream, aren't we?
Coach's Corner: Barangay ginebra's Tim Cone Early Wins Crucial Later On
Despite having won all their matches so far, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head coach Tim Cone is still cautious since a few of his players are not 100% healthy. During their match against the NorthPort Batang Pier, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel starter and longtime Gilas Pilipinas members Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger were out due to various injuries.
Another bench player Raymond Aguilar left during the first half of their game against the NorthPort Batang Pier due to a leg injury. Fortunately for them, the locals turned the tides in their favor to record their third win.
"We're just looking for opportunities to win games early. Anytime we can get a win at this point, it's really big for us," Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head coach Tim Cone said after their win.
"We're gonna wear down and the wins we're getting now are really important for us. We're just trying to stay creative in our lineups and our game-planning and these guys are doing a really great job of being agile.
"Moving quickly on their feet and changing defenses. Switching from this to that."
Coach Tim Cone also gave an update about his star player Japeth Aguilar, who is recovering from an MCL sprain he suffered earlier this week. According to the multi-tilted head coach, they hope that Aguilar is back as a player before the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers in the last week of February.
"We're hoping he'll be back for the window. But we're not sure about that either. But that's the target, get him back for the window and then get him back for Ginebra after the window. We'll see."
When is the next PBA Game?
The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel will next play the Blackwater Bossing on Sunday, February 19, while the NorthPort Batang Pier will take on the San Miguel Beermen on Wednesday, February 15.
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