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Northport stuns TNT in OT

MANILA, Philippines — Right after rookie Fran Yu missed a potential winning trey at the buzzer in regulation, NorthPort coach Bonnie Tan greeted his team with a smile and two thumbs-up sign.

Tan’s positivity and confidence was rewarded by his youth-laden crew with a gutsy performance in overtime that resulted in a 128-123 bounceback win over TNT in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup yesterday at the PhilSports Arena.

Arvin Tolentino spearheaded the Batang Pier’s closing barrage, producing a transition basket off a steal, a booming triple and a clutch offensive rebound that led to the dagger free throws.

NorthPort arrested a two-game slide for 3-2 overall while ending a seven-match skid against TNT dating back to the 2019 Governors’ Cup. The Tropang Giga reeled to their second straight setback and 2-3.

“Sabi ko sa kanila (before OT), kahit nagkakamali sila, it’s okay. Lumalaban tayo. Nakita natin pataas ang laro nila,” said Tan.

“This is the best time to win against TNT kasi kulang-kulang ang rotation nila. To win against TNT, we have to outrun TNT. Mga rookies natin mas fit kayo, mas mabilis, so ‘yun ang challenge. We have to outplay TNT.”

Tolentino shot seven of his team-high 27 in extra time even as newbies Yu and Cade Flores delivered big-time in NorthPort’s winning 15-10 exchange.

Yu made a pivotal basket that gave the Batang Pier an early 120-113 cushion, set up Tolentino’s three-pointer and drew a foul on Calvin Oftana that led to a split for a 126-123 margin. The guard from Letran finished with 14.

Flores opened scoring in extension and carded 16 markers with eight boards in a game where he took primary duties hounding TNT’s prolific import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who went on to score 35 but failed to bring the Tropang Giga the W.

Import Venkatesha Jois logged a comprehensive 21-12-7 statline, making eight in the fourth including the tying dunk for NorthPort.