HAD a strong finish last season in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the Northport Batang Pier are trying to stay the course amid the challenges presented by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as they await the league’s restart.
Speaking at a media forum on Thursday, Northport coach Pido Jarencio shared that their preparation has been doing well, albeit admitted that they long for more activities, particularly holding full contact scrimmages, to better gauge where they are right now.
“We are currently working around what is allowed under the guidelines of the league and the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases). Practices are only limited to four players each time, so there are still a lot of adjustments,” said Mr. Jarencio.
“Right now, basically it’s skills development for the most part, so we’re still finding our way. Until we are allowed to do scrimmages, we cannot really fully tell where we are. But we are trying to hold steady and following the developments and hopefully, we get to start playing 5-on-5,” he added.
The Batang Pier finished last season strong, reaching the Final Four of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
While it barely made it to the quarterfinals with a losing record of 5-6, Northport channelled a giant slayer by upending top seeds NLEX Road Warriors, bucking a twice-to-win disadvantage to advance to the next round.
In the semifinals, they tried to extend their solid play but fell to eventual champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings in their best-of-five encounter, 3-1.
Northport was trying to build on its good run to start the season-opening Philippine Cup in March until the pandemic forced the PBA to suspend its season with only one game played in the tournament.
Despite having to wait up to this point for the league restart, Mr. Jarencio said they are looking forward to the possibilities that await them, including those coming from rookies Renzo Subido and Sean Manganti, as well as the possible return from knee injury of star guard Robert Bolick.
“I think our rookies can help us and be part of our rotation and then there is Robert if he could play. There are a lot of possibilities,” Mr. Jarencio said.
Also part of the Northport roster are big man Christian Standhardinger, the Governors’ Cup best player awardee, Sean Anthony, Kevin Ferrer, Paolo Taha, Garvo Lanete, and Nico Elorde.
As to the planned “bubble” of the PBA for its restart, angled to start on Oct. 9, Mr. Jarencio said it is going to be a challenge, so everybody must be on the same page to make it a success.
The Northport coach said it will be up for grabs when action resumes, with the best conditioned team having a good shot at winning it all.
“The best conditioned team will win it. Hopefully, our team gets to reach its conditioning at the right time. We will be happy with it and take it from there,” he said.
Meanwhile, as of this writing, the PBA Board of Governors was in discussion as for the direction of the league, if it is to restart its currently suspended season.
Among those in the agenda were the setup of the planned bubble and tournament format.
The PBA is considering a bubble similar to that of the National Basketball Association, where all teams and matches are hosted in one place. Another is a semi-bubble type, where participants stay in a designated hotel and go to the venue from there. Third is similar to that of the Bundesliga, where participants restrict their movements to home and venue and back.
The league, too, is looking at having a compressed tournament for its return, lasting only two months. On Wednesday, the PBA held a meeting with player-representatives from the 12 teams to get their input for the restart. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo