Robert Bolick (right) and the Batang Pier fall short of an upset against the Dragons. —PBA IMAGES
Robert Bolick took pride in the way the NorthPort Batang Pier put up a gallant fight against the fancied guest team Bay Area Dragons on Saturday.
“At least, we were able to surprise them,” Bolick said in Filipino.
And then it hit him. The former San Beda star had just taken part in yet another NorthPort heartbreaker.
“Wait, I take it back,” Bolick said. “It’s not okay because we should have won the game.”
NorthPort dropped to 1-1 after what was undoubtedly the best game of the mid-season tournament’s first week going into Sunday, when a doubleheader was postponed due to Super Typhoon “Karding.”
NLEX was slated to take on Meralco in the first game while Barangay Ginebra and Converge were to collide in a twin bill that will be rescheduled most likely to the end of the elimination round.
The Batang Pier were seconds away from handing the Dragons a stunning upset in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, leading by two in the final seconds. But Bay Area import Myles Powell knocked down a difficult three at the buzzer for a 105-104 win at Mall of Asia Arena.
Powell’s shot delivered the latest in a string of painful losses NorthPort absorbed since July 2021. The list includes game-winners by Barangay Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger, Magnolia’s Calvin Abueva and then-San Miguel Beer guard Alex Cabagnot in last season’s Philippine Cup.
“It’s painful to go home after that type of loss. They should have beat us by a big margin instead,” said Bolick. “It’s too painful. We should have won the game.”
Heightening the hurt was the fact that NorthPort had beaten Phoenix in its first game, with the 92-89 win last Wednesday mirroring Bay Area’s triumph.
Only this time, it was Bolick who came up with the big shot, a three-pointer that broke the tie with 12 seconds remaining, prompting NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio to give his ace guard a nickname.
“Good thing we have Mr. Clutch, Robert Bolick,” said Jarencio then.
And Bolick responded with 33 points against Bay Area, almost matching the output of Powell, who had 37. It was Powell who came up clutch, however, with his game-winner.
But Bolick won’t let the loss faze him.
“You have to show that you’re not scared of playing against tough competition because it’s just basketball and it’s not life or death out there,” Bolick said, adding that playing against the Dragons would only help him and the Batang Pier in the long-term.
“When we played in the [2019 Fiba] World Cup [for Gilas Pilipinas], our opponents were on a different level. That’s what’s great about facing those kinds of teams because you can gauge where you are, where your level is and if you can compete against players like Powell.” INQ