The Bay Area shows its full power when splashing down, rain or shine; Hotshots also work
Bay Area coach Brian Goorjian is looking forward to what his Dragons might face in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioners Cup semi-finals.
“We can go to the plate and hit the champions,” Goorjian said after the Dragons cruised to a 126-96 victory over Rain or Shine in the quarter-finals on Friday at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Goorjian is referring to the San Miguel Beermen, who still need one more victory over the Converge FiberXers in their best-of-three series to secure a date with the guest team from Hong Kong.
Magnolia also advanced to the semifinals after a hard-fought 102-95 win over shorthanded Phoenix in the other game.
Importer 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 straight semifinal appearance.
San Miguel convincingly beat Converge in Game 1 and will look to complete a sweep in their 6:45 game Saturday at the same venue.
Not that Goorjian doesn’t see any chance for the FiberXers to turn things around, but he’s pretty sure the Beermen could present a tough challenge for the Dragons in the best-of-five affair.
Although Bay Area pulled off a 26-point beating in their playoff encounter on October 16, San Miguel has since turned the tables and is currently on a five-game winning streak 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 backup when they faced Bay Area that time.
“San Miguel is not the team we saw in the regular season with Romeo in the squad, the big guy (Fajardo) back and their overall depth. It’s going to be a challenge for us,” Goorjian observed. .
He hopes his homegrown players can deliver once the semi-finals begin, no matter who Bay Area faces.
In eliminating Rain or Shine, Bay Area got 47 points from versatile 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 tremendously during this competition. And tonight these guys have grown from where they were before,” said Goorjian.
Andrew Nicholson had 32 points and eight rebounds in his return as the Dragons mattered after Myles Powell was placed on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury in practice.
Powell, who has won all eight games he has played in so far, was listed day by 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 qualifying for the final quarters by ousting his former NLEX team in the playoffs last Sunday.
The Painters offense spat in their biggest game of the conference as importer Ryan Pearson was only good for 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 sell-off after a tie of 86 all as Magnolia won despite the absence of coach Chito Victolero due to health and safety protocols.
“They didn’t look understaffed at all,” said assistant Jason Webb, who did a brilliant job of hitting 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 goaltender RJ Jazul, due to health protocols.
The Hotshots will face the winner of the best-of-three quarter-final between Barangay Ginebra and NorthPort, which the Gin Kings aim to sweep also on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
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