By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Bay Area Dragons are off to a rousing start in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals after completing one of the biggest comebacks of the conference last December 14, 2022.
PBA’s only foreign guest team did the unthinkable and stormed back from a 16-point deficit to stun the reigning Philippine Cup champion squad San Miguel Beermen, 103-102, to go up 1-0 in the semifinals of the import-laced conference.
After Jericho Cruz’s three-pointer in the 4th-minute mark of the third quarter, the Beermen began to sense blood and pulled off early celebrations as their lead immediately ballooned to 16, 83-67.
It was all San Miguel in the next four possessions as the duo of Terrence Romeo and Devon Scott schooled every Bay Area defender that helped maintain their double-digit lead at the end of three quarters.
Just when the Beermen thought they already took full control of the game, Bay Area’s signature unselfish team play suddenly went full display that picked San Miguel’s executions apart.
Former NBA player Andrew Nicholson went beast mode and manhandled both June Mar Fajardo and Scott every time he caught the leather in the shaded lane.
Bay Area went to Nicholson in their first two possessions at the start of the final canto and quickly did wonders for the foreign team.
Nicholson went 2/2 in just a minute that spearheaded Bay Area’s insane fourth-quarter comeback. What was once a 16-point lead was cut to single digits which forced San Miguel to call successive timeouts out of frustration.
San Miguel responded with two-straight baskets in hopes of stopping their bleeding but another massive counter-run from Bay Area turned the tables around after retaking the lead at the 5th-minute mark of the game.
The game went into a classic back-and-forth between the two top dogs but it was San Miguel who struck first in the clutch after Fajardo completed a put-back layup off a CJ Perez miss with only 47 seconds left, giving them a 102-99 lead.
Bay Area quickly came right back with an open basket underneath to stay within a point, 102-101, and capped off its magical comeback with the game-winning layup that put them up again, 102-103.
The Beermen had the chance to win the game with six seconds left in the clock but Scott’s fade-away jumper from the right baseline didn’t go into the basket.
Nicholson led Bay Area with a 30-point performance and also grabbed 15 big rebounds backstopped by Zhu Songwei with 19 points and seven assists.
“What I’m most proud about is when they got on top of us, we never quit. We stayed in the game. We never let it go. And then, as the game went on, now you got 22-, 23-year-old legs still out on that floor and it played to our advantage,” said Bay Area head coach Brian Goorjian.