Dragons score as Powell marks return with 50-piece drop
After seeing a stirring performance from his returning import and a convincing effort from the rest of the group, coach Brian Goorjian is now setting his sights on making sure the Bay Area Dragons gain an easier route come playoff time.
“There’s a huge advantage finishing in the top two,” Goorjian said after the Dragons feasted on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters with a 120-87 victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
“We’re gonna do whatever we can to try and get that top two position,” added the Dragons mentor, whose team has three games left in the elimination phase of the midseason tournament.
Well, another similar performance from Myles Powell will surely boost the Dragons’ goal of tabbing one of two twice-to-beat bonuses in the first round of the playoffs.
Powell, coming back after Andrew Nicholson filled the import’s role the past four games, had 50 points as Bay Area notched its seventh win to tie idle Converge for the second spot.
Bay Area will have a quick turnaround as it plays NLEX on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum before taking on leader Magnolia on Nov. 19 at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The Dragons wrap things up on Nov. 23 also at the venue formerly known as ULTRA when they battle the TNT Tropang Giga.
Goorjian feels his team is starting to play well as a collective unit, with the way Bay Area performed against Rain or Shine.
Powell’s 50 was way above his 35.8-point scoring average during the first four games of the conference before he handed the baton to Andrew Nicholson, who last week also dropped 50 but in a losing cause against Meralco,
Powell fired 11 triples, tied for third all-time, before his job was completed with still over two minutes remaining in the third. It was a performance that even surprised Powell, who had the difficult job of having to watch from the sidelines and train for a month under the watchful eye of the Dragons’ conditioning coach, Francesco Berre.
“It’s been days where I wake up at eight in the morning and wasn’t really feeling it, but he pushed me to the limit.” Powell said, referring to Berre.
“He just told me that I have to stay locked in and keep focusing on my body. And with the help of the coaching staff and Francesco, they helped me stay focused and locked in,” added the former Philadelphia 76ers cager.
The rest of the Dragons followed Powell’s lead, headlined by 7-foot-5 Liu Chuanxing, who had 11 points and nine rebounds against the rugged Elasto Painters defense underneath.
“My two Americans, obviously, can play. But the others—the Chinese [players] that have come across here [and] the kids from Hong Kong—they’re playing against quicker and, a lot of times, more mature, tougher guys and they’re growing, they’re getting better,” said Goorjian.
“Tonight was by far the best game we played together as a team on both ends of the floor,” he added.
The loss sent Rain or Shine to a share of seventh with NorthPort at 4-5 (win-loss) and featured a rough debut by new import Ryan Pearson, who only had nine points on 2-of-7 shooting with two rebounds, two assists and two steals while turning the ball over three times. INQ
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