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PBA: Bay Area dethrones San Miguel, books Finals date vs Ginebra

Bay Area dethroned San Miguel, 94-92, to complete the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals picture, Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

Kobey Lam and Andrew Nicholson came through with timely triples in the final 2:45, and the Beermen’s failure to capitalize on the opportunities it got later in the match ultimately allowed the Dragons to escape with the tight win.

The guest team from Hong Kong has forged a best-of-seven title showdown with Barangay Ginebra. Series starts on Christmas Day on Sunday.

“Excited to be in the final,” said head coach Brian Goorjian. “Nothing but respect for Tim Cone, they dominated the semifinals, they dominated the quarterfinals, they dominated the final stretch of the season.”

“They dominated us the first time they played us. So I’m hoping we got better,” he added, referring to their 111-93 loss to the Kings in the eliminations last October 9 — their very first loss of the conference.

Nicholson led Bay Area with monster numbers of 42 points and 21 rebounds in a performance that saw him nail six treys, none bigger than the one he made over CJ Perez to make it a 94-90 lead with 1:33 remaining.

Lam finished with 26 points as he emerged as a major contributor for the visitors in the semis. Hayden Blankley, meanwhile, added 12 markers.

“We showed great composure towards the end,” said Nicholson, who shot 15-of-23 from the field. “They made a big run and we answered back defensively, made the right decisions, and played through adversity.”

Perez, on the other hand, led San Miguel with 28 points, while Devon Scott tallied 25 markers, 19 boards, and eight assists in the loss.

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Perez actually had the chance to tie the game up after being sent to the line with 1:55 remaining but only made one, and that miss proved costly as it later on led to that back-breaking trey by Nicholson against him.

Scott himself had a chance to trim the deficit into half just moments later but missed both of his foul shots, although he made up for it by going perfect in a separate trip to the charity stripe with 33.2 seconds to go.

The door opened for SMB to at least tie the game when Zhu Songwei missed his lay-up with 12 seconds left, but the team did not call for a timeout.

Instead, the five on the floor tried to go for the kill, but to no avail. Perez’ triple off Simon Enciso’s handoff missed, and Fajardo’s attempt — a fadeaway right after grabbing the board — also didn’t hit its target as time expired.

Fajardo missing the potential game-tying jumper was a microcosm of his struggles, where he only went 4-of-15 from the floor. The six-time MVP, however, finished with 16 rebounds, two assists, and a block.

The loss not only ended the proud ball club’s reign in the mid-season tilt but also blew its bid for a potential Grand Slam once again.

The Scores:

Bay Area 94 – Nicholson 42, Lam 26, Blankley 12, Zhu 7, Yang 3, Ju 2, Song 2, Liu 0, Reid 0.

San Miguel 92 – Perez 28, Scott 25, Lassiter 14, Fajardo 9, Enciso 5, Cruz 4, Brondial 4, Romeo 3, Ross 0, Manuel 0.

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Quarterscores: 17-16, 46-38, 69-72, 94-92.

The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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