Bay Area displays full power in ditching Rain or Shine; Hotshots also march on
Bay Area coach Brian Goorjian is looking ahead to what his Dragons may have to deal with in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
“We get to step up to the plate, and take a swing at the champs,” Goorjian said after the Dragons cruised to a 126-96 win over Rain or Shine in the quarterfinals on Friday at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Goorjian is referring to the San Miguel Beermen, who are still needing one more victory over the Converge FiberXers in their best-of-three series to set up a date with the guest team from Hong Kong.
Magnolia also advanced to the semis after a hard-fought 102-95 victory over shorthanded Phoenix in the other game.
Import Nick Rakocevic shrugged off an ankle injury earlier in the game to finish with 18 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and five blocks to send the Hotshots to their fourth consecutive semifinal appearance.
San Miguel beat Converge convincingly in the opener and will try to complete a sweep in their 6:45 p.m. match Saturday at the same venue.
Not that Goorjian sees no chance of the FiberXers turning things around, but he’s very high that the Beermen could pose a stern challenge for the Dragons in the best-of-five affair.
Though Bay Area carved out a 26-point drubbing in their elimination round meeting last Oct. 16, San Miguel has since turned things around and is currently on a five-game winning run under assistant coach Jorge Gallent.
June Mar Fajardo and Terrence Romeo have since returned, while import Devon Scott has been a major presence after replacing Diamond Stone, who was San Miguel’s reinforcement when it faced Bay Area that one time.
“San Miguel isn’t the team we saw in the regular season with Romeo on the team, the big fellow (Fajardo) is back and their overall depth. It’s gonna be a challenge for us,” Goorjian observed.
He hopes that his local players can deliver once the semis begins—whichever opponent Bay Area faces.
In eliminating Rain or Shine, Bay Area got 47 points from the all-around Hayden Blankley, who knocked down 10 three-point shots.
“The exciting part of being part of the PBA is that our Chinese players have improved immensely over the course of this competition. And tonight, those guys stepped up from where they were prior,” said Goorjian.
Andrew Nicholson had 32 points and eight rebounds in his return as Dragons import after Myles Powell was placed on the injured reserve after hurting his foot in practice.
Powell, who won all eight games he has so far seen action in, has been listed as day-to-day.
Last in, first out
Rain or Shine’s campaign comes to an end after coach Yeng Guiao’s homecoming resulted in five wins and barely getting the final quarters berth by ousting his former team NLEX in a playoff last Sunday.
The Painters’ offense sputtered in their biggest game of the conference as import Ryan Pearson was good for only 15 points and five rebounds in more than 31 minutes on the floor.
Rey Nambatac led all Rain or Shine shooters with 19 points and Gian Mamuyac and Andrei Caracut had 12 each.
Rakocevic and Calvin Abueva conspired in a decisive windup after an 86-all tie as Magnolia prevailed despite missing coach Chito Victolero due to health and safety protocols.
“They didn’t look undermanned at all,” said assistant Jason Webb, who turned in a brilliant pinch hitting job for Victolero. “They gave us matchup problems and it took us until the fourth quarter to finally figure it out.”
Phoenix missed three players, including reliable guard RJ Jazul, due to health protocols.
The Hotshots will take on the winner of the best-of-three quarterfinal between Barangay Ginebra and NorthPort, which the Gin Kings aim sweep also Saturday at 4:30 p.m.