It’s been said that a lot can happen in a year and for the NorthPort Batang Pier, that could be an understatement.
A switch in head coaches from Pido Jarencio to Bonnie Tan would have been quite a shakeup in itself, but the departure of star Robert Bolick for the Japan B2 League’s Fukushima Firebonds was a great loss for the Batang Pier. Sure, the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup gave NorthPort more time to adjust, but the rest of the PBA got as much time as well.
Thankfully, it seems not all developments were deterrent to the Batang Pier. Tan so far has NorthPort at 2-0 and part of that came thanks to the latest circumstances surrounding Arvin Tolentino.
Tolentino was one of a handful of players who got to get some reps with their respective teams in the PBA On Tour and he went on to average 22.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks during the offseason tournament.
At the same time, the 2023 PBA Second Mythical Team selection was given the opportunity to join Gilas Pilipinas for their 2023 SEA Games and the postponed 2022 Asian Games campaigns, both of which saw him earn gold medals.
Those experiences all led to Tolentino’s best game in his professional career thus far, one that also propelled the Batang Pier to a 113-103 victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Everyone will remember that Tolentino put up a career-high 35 points off the bench, his evolution was on full display. Sure, he knocked down a handful of 3-pointers, but he was aggressive in attacking the basket and challenging opponents for rebounds, all of which led to a stellar performance from the free throw line. To cap it all off, Tolentino also threw a dunk on Gabe Norwood for good measure.
The term career game will be thrown around when talking about Tolentino’s performance, but it feels more apt to call this a complete game from him. Yes, he did have nine rebounds, three assists, and four steals in the win over the Elasto Painters, but he was able to balance his production from different areas on the court. His work in the offseason has allowed him to experiment on this, and with the reps left by Bolick and the other departures from NorthPort, there’s a lot he can do.
It sure would be fun to keep tabs on November 12, 2024 to see if Arvin Tolentino will once again set a new career-high in points for a single game, but how his game grows in another year will be an even better thing to watch out for. For now the NorthPort Batang Pier is his to lead, but down the road, he could very well be taking over the PBA.