Gallent is optimistic that Beermen can compete with Dragons

Dec 14, 2022

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MANILA, Philippines – When Bay Area and San Miguel Beer rematch in the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the PhilSports Arena, expect a “no quarters asked, none given” matchup. Both teams are on a tear.

The winner receives a much-needed head start, which may be of great assistance to the former during the length of the best-of-five series, which is anticipated to go the entire distance.

The Dragons appear to have the upper hand at first appearance because they defeated eighth-ranked Rain or Shine last Friday in one game, extending their winning streak to five games, which gives them the advantage in the eliminations.

Contrarily, in their own quarterfinal matchup, which was only recently resolved last Saturday, the fifth-ranked Beermen needed to win two games to defeat the No. 4 seed Converge.

In their lone elimination round encounter last October 16, Bay Area likewise humiliated SMB, winning 113 to 87. But as Dragons coach Brian Goorjian acknowledged, a lot has changed since then.

“It’s going to be a tremendous battle for us,” said Goorjian after his club’s 126 to 96 thrashing of the Elasto Painters. “This is not the same San Miguel squad that we saw in the regular season with (Terrence) Romeo in the team now, the big fellow (June Mar Fajardo) back and their general depth.”

With an average of 17.5 points per game in the two meetings versus Converge, Romeo has indeed worked his way back to almost full strength after an almost nine-month hiatus. Fajardo is equally as spectacular, if not more so. He returned after a seven-game layoff to help SMB sweep its last four elimination games with a four-game winning streak before helping the Beermen defeat the FiberXers with two-game averages of 18.5 points, 17.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists.

Devon Scott has since now taken Diamond Stone’s spot and is now firmly established with the Beermen, as demonstrated by his 11-game averages of 23.1 points, 15.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.6 steals.

The defending champs think they are capable of upending Bay Area when they are at full strength. Jorge Gallent, Leo Austria’s top assistant, noted that “the first game, we just didn’t have guys that we had an advantage to go to, but now… I personally believe that  we have means to maximize the advantages of our team offenses,  to the Dragons.”

It should be difficult enough to contain Andrew Nicholson’s high-octane Bay Area offense. Other players include Hayden Blankley, who recently scored a career-high 47 points, Zhu Songwei, Kobey Lam, and Liu Chuanxing, all of whom stand 7’5″ and can easily tower over Mo Tautuaa and Fajardo, both of whom are 6’10”.

Gallent however thinks SMB can at least match Bay Area performance. We can kind of live with them in terms of size, he remarked.

We can review films of their first game to analyze what went wrong and what we can change to make our series better. “We have men that can match up with them. We have talented big guys as well. I won’t have a problem also.” Nicholson was the import when we faced them.

In terms of scouting, Gallent claimed that the Beermen’s preparation for the playoffs will benefit from playing against Nicholson in the elimination games. The interim head coach of San Miguel is certain that his club can defeat the 6-foot-10 immigrant. 

In the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals against the Bay Area Dragons, SAN Miguel interim coach Jorge Gallent effectively communicated his team’s preparation. 

Whether they face Andrew Nicholson or Myles Powell, Gallent said he likes the team’s chances against the Dragons in their best-of-five series. 

Powell, who sustained an injury prior to the Dragons’ quarterfinal match against Rain or Shine, will be replaced by Nicholson as the Dragons’ reinforcement for the time being.

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