Northport import Venky Jois in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

Northport import Venky Jois (left) in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. –PBA IMAGES

The under-the-radar import who steered NorthPort to victory and the highly touted Terrafirma rookie who wound up on the losing end are looking ahead on how to become better players in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup.

Venky Jois immediately noted other aspects which he can contribute to after putting up 43 points in propelling the Batang Pier past the Dyip and No. 1 Draft pick Stephen Holt, 108-103, Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum, given how teams will take notice of his mobility.

“I think what makes me a great player is that I can find people and pass well,” said the 6-foot-4 Aussie, who also had 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals. “I may not go 43, but maybe my assist numbers can go higher up.”

Holt, meanwhile, finished with 11 points but missed seven of nine attempts, including one open three-pointer that could have tied the game late in the fourth when Jois took over for the Batang Pier.

But Holt’s six rebounds, five assists and four steals clearly show that he can provide other things that made him a heralded top pick in last September’s rookie proceedings.

“I know the spotlight’s on me, obviously being the first pick and the expectations being put on our group,” said Holt. “It’s just one loss, but I think I had a pretty good preseason, I got better every single game and I won’t let this one (mediocre) game affect me.”

NorthPort will have a quick turnaround and then returns to action on Sunday when it goes up to Ynares Center in Antipolo to play a Rain or Shine squad that could test Jois with the latter’s physicality underneath.

Strong support

Arvin Tolentino had 16 points while Joshua Munzon had 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals while being given the task as one of the guys defending Holt.

Terrafirma’s loss spoiled a 21-point effort from Juami Tiongson, who hasn’t slowed down after two terrific seasons and belying all preseason talk that he would because of Holt’s arrival.

Import Thomas de Theay fouled out after accounting for 20 points and seven rebounds. This also contributed to the concerns Terrafirma will address before facing Blackwater on Wednesday also at Ynares.

But the Dyip wasted a 10-point third quarter lead as Jois was among those who led the comeback before putting big baskets in the fourth to put the Batang Pier ahead.

“I think the adjustments that we made were more defense and running that made us really, really good,” Jois said. “As a team, I think we improved from the first 10 minutes to the last 10 minutes by a lot.”

Meanwhile, TNT has activated Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for Saturday’s match against Converge in Antipolo after missing the opening night defeat to Magnolia while recovering from gastroenteritis.

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Hollis-Jefferson regains his spot after TNT’s other import in the East Asia Super League, Quincy Miller, produced 37 points in a 110-102 loss.


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