Powell drains buzzer-beating triple as Dragons dodge Batang Pier’s upset axe
The myth of invincibility posed by the visiting Bay Area Dragons was shattered after they escaped the jaws of defeat on Saturday.
And for coach Brian Goorjian, the 105-104 win over the NorthPort Batang Pier on Myles Powell’s buzzer-beating three inside Mall of Asia Arena is an example of why the PBA Commissioner’s Cup will not be easy pickings for the Dragons.
“We won by 46 points [in the first game against Blackwater] and everybody thinks you’re something. You’re not,” Goorjian said after surviving Bay Area’s first big test since coming over to the country last month.
The 6-foot-2 Powell came through for the Dragons with 37 points capped by what seemed like an impossible triple under heavy pressure from the Batang Pier’s 6-foot-10 import Prince Ibeh at the left corner as the Dragons pulled this one out to be 2-0.
It was an emotional moment for Powell, the former Seton Hall product who was cut twice by the New York Knicks while also dealing with the situation of his brother serving a prison sentence back home in the United States.
Blackwater, meanwhile, bounced back from that humiliating defeat by clipping undermanned Phoenix, 97-85, in the nightcap.
Bay Area players went crazy after the shot as they prevented what could have been their first loss after winning nine tune-up matches as part of preparations for the PBA and the East Asia Super League. The Dragons, at the start of the conference on Wednesday, made it look like the Blackwater Bossing didn’t belong on the same court with them after a 133-87 demolition.
Goorjian, well versed with international play, admitted that the Hong Kong outfit was glad to “come out alive” after NorthPort put up a hell of a fight that was hardly seen against Blackwater’s pathetic stand.
And for Goorjian, the close-shaved result is an indication that expectations of Bay Area dominating PBA ballclubs may not be the case at all.
“It shows everybody that this is going to be good basketball,” the Australian national team mentor explained. ”I mean there’s a lot of emotion in it, the teams playing us are fired up and want this bad.
“The crowd’s involved—imagine if there’s 10,000 people in here—so I feel good we’re bringing something to this. But we’re learning how to play Filipino basketball,” added Goorjian.
Bay Area not only got a taste of the brand of play being showcased in this part of the world, but also the physical nature of it, as seen at the end of the first half when Goorjian even had to talk with NorthPort counterpart Pido Jarencio at center court.
It’s another aspect Goorjian and the Dragons are still trying to get used to.
“It’s us that has to learn,” he said. “It’s a different game here, it’s called different and we’re learning. And sometimes on both sides of this, there’s frustration, there’s a lot of emotion there to kick our ass and there’s a lot of emotion on our side to not back off.
“I thought tonight—and it was there in the preseason games there was some emotion—it’s lessons that we’re learning and we’re trying to grow. But my hat goes off to [NorthPort] as competitors and as far as the coaches’ game plan. Time for us to go back to the backboard and learn a little bit. But all good.”
The competitiveness was evident for NorthPort’s main figures, with Robert Bolick firing 33 points and Arvin Tolentino putting up 22 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.
Those numbers were not enough for the Batang Pier.
“I can’t count how many times we have lost a close game,“ lamented Bolick. “We lost to Magnolia and San Miguel in the past. This time, it was against a visiting team.“