Bay Area goes for kill vs San Miguel Beer
The chance at becoming just the fourth guest team in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) history to reach the Finals is something coach Brian Goorjian and the Bay Area Dragons are not taking for granted.
“You don’t get many opportunities to win a championship,” Goorjian said as the Dragons aim to sweep the San Miguel Beermen in Game 3 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series on Sunday at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Bay Area’s first of three attempts to advance to the league’s grandest stage starts at 4:30 p.m. before Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra break their 1-1 tie in the other semifinal pairing at 6:45 p.m.
Magnolia leveled the series last Friday, when Paul Lee scored a buzzer-beating basket following Calvin Abueva’s inbound, which deputy commissioner Eric Castro later said was made just in time to avoid a five-second violation.
Many fans questioned whether Abueva should have been whistled for an infraction, but Castro clarified that the official who was near the inbounder made the right no-call.
“There was no five-second violation. Manual counting was done by our trail referee,” Castro said.
The winner moves one step shy of reaching the title series, possibly against the visitors from Hong Kong, who have posted contrasting results in beating the Beermen thrice this conference.
Goorjian’s Dragons moved on the cusp of finishing off the talented and decorated San Miguel squad with a convincing 114-95 win that spoiled the return of Beermen coach Leo Austria.
Coach Ron Jacobs’ Northern Consolidated squad in 1985 was the last guest to capture a PBA crown, sweeping Manila Beer for the Reinforced Conference crown. The roster led by Jeff Moore, Dennis Still, Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim and Hector Calma eventually gave the Philippines its last Asian Basketball Confederation title (now called Fiba Asia Cup).
Other foreign teams
The two others were foreign teams like the Dragons, with an Emtex Brazil side led by the great Oscar Schmidt losing to Toyota in the 1977 Invitational while an all-American Nicholas Stoodley squad beat Toyota for the 1980 Invitational championship.
“My sound to our team all the time is this team won’t be the same again, it’s a one-off opportunity,” Goorjian said of the team that was supposed to take part in the inaugural East Asia Super League which was later reduced to a one-week tournament set for 2023.
“Young guys sometimes don’t realize that. You can play your whole career and not win a championship. We’ve got an opportunity to do something special and we just want to make sure we leave no rock unturned right now.
“From a coaching standpoint, from a recovery standpoint, from a playing standpoint. When you look at the game that was played prior to us and this team, it would be a real honor to get to that grand final and we’re close. I’m excited,” added the Dragons mentor, who also serves as the Australian national team mentor.
San Miguel, however, is expected to come out desperate to at least extend the series to another game. The Beermen blew a chance to fire the warning shot in Game 1, blowing a 16-point lead before dropping a 103-102 decision.
Austria came back after missing seven games due to health protocols, but the Beermen lost an early lead before the Dragons dominated throughout the contest.
Veteran Chris Ross later suggested that San Miguel should probably get back to the things that made them successful during the course of a seesaw campaign.
“We’re a really good team also, but we’re not focusing on the things that need to be done to win this ball game,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.