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PBA: Bay Area makes it rain on SMB, moves to cusp of Finals


Bay Area spoiled the return of Leo Austria by dealing San Miguel a harsh 114-95 mauling to move on the cusp of clinching the first ticket to the 2022-23 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals, Friday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

Ensuring that there won’t be a repeat of their previous encounter, the Dragons finished the second quarter with a 16-5 run for a 52-42 lead at the half and went on to lead all the way en route to the 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

Unbeaten since bowing to Meralco last November 4, the guest team from Hong Kong can finish it off in Game Three on Sunday, 4:30, at the same venue.

“We want to do everything we can to win when we can,” said head coach Brian Goorjian. “Play one game at a time. I’m not thinking sweep, I’m just thinking about the next game. And try to win that, and keep this momentum going.”

Andrew Nicholson finished with 34 points and 16 rebounds to lead Bay Area, who made it rain from downtown by sinking 17 three-pointers.

Kobey Lam, the hero of Game One by completing their comeback from 16 down with the go-ahead lay-up in the final seconds, finished with 25 points. He also collected five rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes.

“It’s just the fact that we’re in the playoffs,” said the 6-foot-3 guard, when asked about his push for Game Two that led to his playoff-high. “Exciting, got to bring the energy, especially with the fact that Andrew is playing big minutes.”

Glen Yang and Zhu Songwei supplied 13 points apiece. Hayden Blankley made 11 points, while 7-foot-5 center Liu Chuanxing added 10 markers and seven boards as the Dragons’ depth were on display again thanks to 24 assists.

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San Miguel, meanwhile, was led by the 35 points and 10 rebounds of June Mar Fajardo as he did much of the heavy lifting for his crew.

The six-time MVP was a major reason behind their good start by scoring the first eight of a 10-2 spurt, until Bay Area caught up and eventually took control.

“We’re down 10-2 or whatever, he had [almost] 10 points,” Goorjian recalled. “I didn’t see the numbers tonight, but he did hurt us. It’s something we’ve got to be aware of early and throughout the game is how we defend June Mar.”

Marcio Lassiter backed up Fajardo with 15 points — all of which he made from deep — while Devon Scott made 14 points, six boards, and six assists in the defeat that put the Beermen’s reign as conference champions at risk.

The loss, furthermore, served as a rude welcome for the comebacking Austria, who missed seven games due to health and safety protocols.

The Scores:

Bay Area 114 – Nicholson 34, Lam 25, Yang 13, Zhu 13, Blankley 11, Liu 10, Ju 4, Zheng 2, Reid 2, Song 0, Ewing 0, Si 0, Liang 0.

San Miguel 95 – Fajardo 35, Lassiter 15, Scott 14, Perez 13, Manuel 9, Romeo 5, Brondial 2, Zamar 2, Enciso 0, Ross 0, Cruz 0, Canete 0.

Quarterscores: 26-25, 52-42, 80-66, 114-95.

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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