MANILA, Philippines – In a 126 to 96 thrashing on Friday, BAY Area quickly dispatched Rain or Shine to win their quarterfinal matchup and become the first team into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Final Four at the PhilSports Arena.
The top-seeded Dragons did not waste their win-once advantage over the eighth-ranked Elasto Painters, as Hayden Blankley scored a career-high 47 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Andrew Nicholson shot 32 percent from the field and had eight turnovers in just three quarters.
Bay Area automatically advanced to the best-of-five semifinals, where it will face the winner of the other quarterfinal matchup between San Miguel Beer and Converge, thanks to its veritable repeat of a 120 to 87 victory over the same team in their lone elimination round encounter.
Coach Brian Goorjian of the Dragons predicts that his team will play the Beermen next and expressed his excitement at the prospect of taking on the reigning champion.
With (Terrence) Romeo on the club now, the big fellow (June Mar Fajardo) back, and their general depth, Goorjian said, “It’s going to be a huge struggle for us. This is not the same San Miguel team that we saw in the regular season.”
Goorjian continued, “I’m just so happy that we’re in the top four of the PBA in our first year. Couldn’t ask for more: “Amazing accomplishment and we get to step up to the plate and take a swing at the champs.”
After failing to find a solution to Bay Area’s height advantage and more accurate field goal shooting, Rain or Shine’s attempt to extend its first playoff run in the previous three conferences was unsuccessful as a result of the loss.
Respect to Rain or Shine, but we shot the ball like crazy tonight, Goorjian said. “The coach’s gameplan was very, very good. They were competitive and they played us tough.”
In fact, Bay Area was successful on 46 of its 83 field goal attempts, including 21 of its 41 attempts from beyond the arc. In addition to having a huge 55 to 35 advantages on the boards, the Dragons were also plus-16 in points from the inside.
The E-Painters finally found some of their touch from beyond the arc in the second half after struggling early on. The guest team had already built up an 85 to 51 lead by that point, and the opportunities were too few and far between.
Rey Nambatac led Rain or Shine with 19 points despite sitting out the final frame. Andrei Caracut and Mike Nieto each scored 12 points, and Ryan Pearson added 15 more points. (NC)
Scores at the the end of the match
Bay Area with 126 points
Individual scores: Blankley 47, Nicholson 32, Yang 13, Zhu 9, Song 6, Zheng 5, Lam 5, Liu 4, Ewing 3, Reid 2, Si 0, Ju 0, Zhang 0
Rain or Shine with 96 points
Individual scores: Nambatac 19, Pearson 15, Caracut 12, Nieto 12, Asistio 9, Mamuyac 8, Clarito 7, Santillan 7, Belga 3, Ponferrada 1, Norwood 0, Guinto 0, Ildefonso 0, Torres 0
Scores per quarter
27 to 16, 60 to 44, 92 to 68, 126 to 96