THE Northport Batang Pier are gearing up for the next season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) set to begin in April.
Speaking at the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, Erick Arejola, representative to the PBA board of governors, said they are in the process of signing up players who would form their team and awaiting word for them to start team practices in preparation for their return to action.
“We are currently signing up the players we need. They are doing individual training and we’re only waiting for the go-signal for team practices to resume,” the Northport official said, highlighting as well that “Our players are observing the health protocols.”
Mr. Arejola, who joined team owner and congressman Mikee Romero in the forum, also took the opportunity to debunk persistent rumors that they are going to trade away star big man Christian Standhardinger.
“We won’t be trading Christian, He’s a key part of the team,” said Mr. Arejola.
The Batang Pier acquired Mr. Standhardinger in a trade with San Miguel in exchange for fellow big man Moala Tautuaa, but rumors have it that the former is still bound for another team.
The latest deal being linked to Mr. Standhardinger is that involving Vic Manuel, who recently expressed his desire to leave the Alaska Aces.
Northport is also looking to fortify its roster by way of the talent-rich rookie draft this year.
“We’re waiting for the final list and then we will decide who to get,” he said.
In the 2019 rookie draft, Pido Jarencio-coached NorthPort selected collegiate standouts Sean Manganti in the first round and Renzo Subido in the second.
The Batang Pier, which finished 11th in the lone PBA tournament last year, have two picks (second and 11th) in the 2021 PBA rookie draft.
Meanwhile, Mr. Arejola said injured guard Robert Bolick is progressing well in his rehab and is looking forward to joining the team.
“He’s excited to be back on the court to help the team,” said the Northport governor of the 6-foot-1 guard from San Beda, who saw his banner rookie campaign in 2019 cut short by an ACL injury.
Mr. Bolick was angling to return in the pandemic-hit season of the PBA in 2020, but eventually decided against it on the advice of his doctor.
“His knee is getting stronger and he wants to be back,” Mr. Arejola said.
Prior to getting hurt, Mr. Bolick had PBA averages of 13.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 32 games for Northport. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo