For the first time in its franchise history, Northport was one of the top two teams at the end of the elimination round and had a twice-to-beat advantage.
Only, when the curtain raised in their quarterfinals matchup opposite San Miguel, the Batang Pier were ran out of the court, 84-98.
Even so, super rookie Robert Bolick remains upbeat about their chances. "One game lang yan. We'll come back strong," he told reporters post-game.
He then continued, "Part of the game talaga. Ganoon talaga."
In the eyes of the third overall pick of the 2019 PBA Draft, Northport's breakthrough in the elims was just the insurance they worked hard for in case of a playoff loss like this. "Yun nga ang tinrabaho namin, twice-to-beat, 'di ba? Ganoon talaga. 'Di namin control yun at ang control lang namin is yung laro namin," he said.
He then continued, "Sana, Game 2, step up kami."
And Bolick has no doubt that he and his teammates will not waste their second chance. "Confident ako sa team namin. Hindi namin ibibigay nang madali to, for sure. We will fight, we will have a dogfight on Wednesday," he said, full of confidence.
He then continued, "We worked hard for the second-seed tapos kukunin na lang nang ganoon? No. Papakamatay kami."
Indeed, when their do-or-die game rolls along on Wednesday, he has no doubt Northport will rise to the challenge - no matter what their opponents have in store. Asked about getting special attention from the likes of Chris Ross, he answered, "Okay lang. They're just doing their job. Wala naman akong pakialam sa mga ganoon."
He then continued, "Kahit rookie ako, hindi papasok sa akin yun. I just play my game kasi kahit anong tactics, part of the game lang yan."
And actually, for the ever-competitive 23-year-old, that special attention will only be much more motivation for him. "Hindi nasisira laro ko sa ganoon. Lalo pa nga akong namo-motivate," he said.
After all, his time on the big stage and under the bright lights of the NCAA, giving his all for San Beda University, has done nothing but ready him for these moments. "Parang sa NCAA, sanay na ako sa mga ganoon. Trash talk, siko-siko, part of the game yun e," he shared.
He then continued, "They're just doing their job and I'm just doing my job to do my best para sa team ko."