Bay Area plays just the right Dragons to clip Kings and tie title series | Inquirer Sports

Bay Area plays just the right Dragons to clip Kings and tie title series

/ 05:25 AM January 07, 2023

Barangay Ginebra's Scottie Thompson. –PBA IMAGES

Barangay Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson. –PBA IMAGES

The Bay Area Dragons refused to let their emotions get the best of them on Friday and took the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup Finals back to level terms with a courageous Game 4 victory pulled out without import Andrew Nicholson.

“I thought our guys were brave and they were fearless tonight,” Goorjian said after the Dragons bucked Nicholson’s absence to stun Barangay Ginebra, 94-86, before 17,236 fans at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.


Forty-eight hours after a Game 3 meltdown that upset Goorjian and prompted Hayden Blankley and reserve import Myles Powell to take shots at officiating through social media, the Dragons let their game do the talking despite the odds stacked against them.


That was even after Ginebra, which was in a festive mood before the start when Justin Brownlee got the Best Import award and Scottie Thompson being hailed Best Player of the Conference, pulled away in the second quarter to lead by 12 at one point and 46-38 at the half.

Kobey Lam, who had shown glimpses of his offensive prowess throughout the conference, had his best game at the most crucial time as he sizzled for 30 points built on eight threes, including some in the fourth quarter that killed any hopes of another Ginebra comeback.

Bringing it

Zhu Songwei and Glen Yang also produced for Bay Area, but perhaps the most vital were two players who filled up the void left by Nicholson—out with a swollen left ankle—at the pivot as Goorjian, whose rotation in the series has been short, utilized the right mix of 10 men that got the job done.

Duncan Reid came up with eight points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes, while 7-foot-5 Liu Chuanxing also had the same numbers, much to the frustration of coach Tim Cone and his Gin Kings.

“I can’t remember being more angry than I was after the last game,” Goorjian said after Bay Area wasted a seven-point lead in the final four minutes that allowed Ginebra to steal Game 3 with an 89-82 triumph.

“So I kept my mouth shut to the media and to my team, collected my thoughts, and went to the bunker knowing we didn’t have Nicholson. So we had to bring it,” Goorjian said. “We had to play with a defensive presence and we had to move the ball.


“I’m proud of my young team playing in a game like this and competing and getting a win. I’m really proud right now,” he added as the focus will now be on the pivotal Game 5 set Sunday at the same venue with the winner moving one win shy of the crown.

Still unsure

Nicholson, who didn’t play after showing up in street clothes and a protective boot, is in day-to-day, giving Goorjian and his wards some hope that he can return. But Goorjian ruled out any chance of bringing back Powell, who is also out with an injured foot.

But the way it played minus the ex-NBA player sent a strong message that Bay Area can still be a team to be reckoned with moving forward.

Ginebra got 24 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists and four steals from Brownlee on the night he won the Best Import plum for the third time, while Thompson had 18 points, five rebounds and six assists.

But it was the Gin Kings this time that couldn’t protect the lead as the Dragons, led by Lam’s shooting and timely awakening by Blankley after missing his first 11 shots, plus Liu and Reid’s presence, turned the tide and left partisan fans—in euphoria the last game—agitated and in disbelief.

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“We were outworked,” Thompson lamented in Filipino when he emerged from the dugout.

TAGS: Andrew Nicholson, Barangay Ginebra, Bay Area Dragons, Philippine Basketball Association

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