By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Bay Area Dragons finally looked like their old selves and handed the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel a demolition exhibition, 99-82, in Game 2 of the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup grand finals last December 28, 2022.
Just like what Bay Area head coach Brian Goorjan said, Game 1 was a wake-up call and he expected his guys to bounce back in any way that they can.
True to his words, the Goorjan-mentored foreign guest team was outstanding from both ends of the floor and kept on hitting back when Ginebra trimmed their double-digit lead twice in the game.
It was a classic Ginebra start as the Game 1 winners struck first after super resident import Justin Brownlee immediately waxed hot in the opening quarter of the slugfest.
Christian Standhardinger also provided the early spark after cleaning up several Ginebra misses that put them in control of the game in the first six minutes.
However, the trio of Andrew Nicholson, Kobe Lam, and Zhu Songwei answered the call for Bay Area and responded with huge baskets that halted Ginebra’s fiery first-quarter scoring.
Bay Area didn’t end their paint dominance in the second quarter and continued pouring in the attack, taking advantage of their size that put Japeth Aguilar and Standhardinger in early foul trouble.
Eager to turn the tables around and give their die-hard Filipino fans a treat, Ginebra flipped the switch in the first five minutes of the third quarter after trimming Bay Area’s 17-point lead to just seven points, 57-50, courtesy of a Standhardinger bucket underneath.
Just when the Gin Kings thought they could get back on track and make the game a nip-and-tuck affair, Bay Area would respond with crucial baskets from Glen Yang and Hayden Blankley that extended their lead back to double-digits again.
Ginebra failed to replicate their intensity in the fourth quarter and could only see the Dragons pick them apart in the post and the three-point area.
Nicholson bounced back from a sub-par Game 1 performance and dropped 30 points and 15 rebounds in the must-win Game 2.
Backstopping Nicholson was Zhou who unloaded 25 big points alongside five rebounds and six assists. Blankley also chipped in 17 points built from a 70% shooting from the field after a hot third-quarter offensive clinic.
Ginebra will have the chance to redeem themselves in the upcoming Game 3 on January 4, 2023 to be held at the Mall of Asia Arena.