When Ginebra and Northport made Stanley Pringle changed address in completing PBA’s recent blockbuster trade, several eyebrows were raised as the exchange was deemed one-sided by many observers due to Pringle’s stature.
However, early returns showed Northport made this trade one of the few instances where the transfer of a superstar in exchange for several pieces a win-win situation.
One of the reasons made by Northport Coach Pido Jarencio in pulling the trigger to deal away Pringle was Northport’s hot start. Before the trade, the Batang Pier sported a record of 5-1, staying neck-and-neck with the TNT Ka Tropa for the conference lead.
He said injuries have sidelined majority of his players for a considerable amount of time and is down to fielding just eight of them prior to the trade.
Jarencio must have seen something special from his current group of Batang Pier and obviously doesn’t want to waste the perfect opportunity to go deep in the playoffs that he was willing part with probably his most prolific player for bench depth in this conference.
As if on cue, his eight-man crew played the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters right after the trade went down and hacked out an inspiring victory after coming back from a big lead.
The Batang Pier were given up for dead as they trail the E-painters by as much as 25 in the third quarter but came roaring back to stun them with a 107-105 overtime victory.
In their next game, the new recruits showed the way in Batang Pier’s 127-99 rout of Blackwater.
Kevin Ferrer topscored Northport with 23 points; Sol Mercado with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists; while Jervy Cruz had a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Batang Pier raised its record to a league-best 7-1 in a tie with TnT Katropa.
A loss to the Phoenis Pulse Fuelmasters, however, ended their winning run since the trade went down, setting their record to 7-2, just half-a-game behind TNT as of press time.
For the record, the only other time Northport had a seven-game win in the eliminations was during the 2015-16 Philippine Cup when it finished the round with a 7-4 card, good for fifth place. It went on to defeat Barako Bull in the first phase of quarterfinals and eliminate Barangay Ginebra in the second phase before falling to Alaska in the semifinals.
This was the only time in franchise history that Northport reached the semifinals of a PBA conference. Northport has been in the league for six year now and completed 16 conferences.
While these acquisitions don’t really put Northport over the top, they should be able keep Northport competitive for a deep playoff run in the next few years when combined with Sean Anthony, Moala Tautuaa, and Robert Bolick.
Handing the reins to Bolick
Jarencio must have also seen something in his prized rookie to agree to this kind of trade, especially during the mid-season.
Jarencio was at the forefront of what many described as the most prolific backcourt tandem then in Pringle and Terrence Romeo for quite sometime but failed to witness any significant results apart from that single semifinals appearance in that mentioned Philippine Cup.
It seemed they made a stand when they send Romeo packing, partly due to his seemingly inability to get along with his Northport coach, and allow Pringle to have sole control of the action.
The drafting of Bolick, however, began to post similar questions as they play the same position and could end up with results similar to the past.
With Pringle sidelined in the early part of the conference, Bolick emerged as a capable floor director for the Batang Pier.
Bolick capped his impressive performance this year so far by being named Player of the Week for the period June 17 to 23.
Bolick averaged 19.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists during that span. He hit 22 points and connected the pressure-pack three-pointer that sent the Rain or Shine game to overtime.
He barely missed a triple-double in the Blackwater game with 16 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
It seems the Northport brass is rolling the dice on the rookie they drafted third overall behind CJ Perez and Bobby Ray Parks.
No brainer for Ginebra
Acquiring Pringle in exchange for Mercado, Ferrer, and Cruz was a “no-brainer” for Ginebra.
Pringle can easily supplant Mercado in the rotation. Mercado who is the Barangay’s first guard off the bench and their primary defender. Moreover, Pringle, some three years younger than Mercado, showed he can play alongside Scottie Thompson and LA Tenorio.
Cruz is not really being used as he was buried deep in Ginebra’s bigman rotation.
It is the giving up of Ferrer that Ginebra might end regretting. The sweet-shooting forward was a staple in the Gins’ rotation, usually coming off the bench as part of the second unit.
Ferrer possess a quality that most teams covet to compete in the game today, a wingman that can defend, run and space the floor. If Ferrer can develop a consistent outside shot, he should be morphing into one of the elite forwards of the game.
In the meantime, Northport and Ginebra found a way to keep up with San Miguel Beer in the PBA arms race. At least for now.
By Armando M. Bolislis