Gin Kings, Dragons go for broke in Game 3

Andrew Nicholson and Bay Area shoot for a 2-1 lead when they clash with Ginebra in Game 3 of their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven finals series. Photo courtesy of PBA Images

Game Wednesday:
(Mall of Asia Arena)

5:45 p.m. – Bay Area vs Ginebra


Members of Bay Area celebrated the holidays away from their families, but that was hardly felt as they were totally locked in, prepared and ready to go for the kill when they battle Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 3 of their Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Dragons resume their unfinished business when they take on the Kings for the first game of 2023 and the third match of their race-to-four series.

It’s going to be a dogfight as the winner of this very crucial Game 3 will move halfway from securing the first title of this midseason conference in four years.

San Miguel Beer was the last champion of the Commissioner’s Cup in 2019 and the league had to shortened the next seasons brought about by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, even coming up with its first ever bubble competitions for two seasons.

With restrictions now being eased out, the league is poised to wrap up its first full season this year and the Commissioner’s Cup is now drawing to a close featuring the league’s most popular team against an invading squad from Hong Kong that is determined to become the first foreign champion in 42 years.

The Dragons are so determined that they refused to have extended celebration during the holiday season.

With a Christmas Day game, both squads prepared for the series opener and the Kings, who were given an extra day of rest, came out with plenty to spare to take the early series lead with a 96-81 victory in Game 1.

But the Dragons bounced back strong and came away with a vengeful 99-82 triumph in Game 2 to level the series at 1-1 apiece.

Bay Area hasn’t lost back-to-back games this conference and head coach Brian Goorjian had always found ways to win coming off a loss.

How did the Dragons prepare during the holiday break?

Bay Area doesn’t want to lose momentum and made sure it will stay sharp from the week-long Yuletide celebration.

Maya Montecillo-Bono, team manager of Bay Area, informed Daily Tribune that the squad is really determined to win the series.

“We only took a one-day off right after Game 2,” Montecillo-Bono said.

The Dragons came up with a masterful game plan in the second game of the series.

Import Andrew Nicholson got the much-needed help from the rest of the team as the Dragons displayed their balanced firepower in dealing the Kings a sound beating.

Zhu Songwei, who hurt his shin in the series opener, charged back and finished with 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field while Hayden Blankley, who fired blanks in Game 1 and missed all his nine attempts from beyond the arc, was able to hit 3-of-6 from the three-point region, most of them coming during the crucial stretch.

But what was more noticeable was Bay Area’s solid defensive game plan against Ginebra as only two players wound up in double figures for the Kings — import Justin Brownlee with 32 points and Jamie Malonzo with 10 makers.

As a team, the Kings hit only 38 percent from the field, signifying the Dragons unforgiving defense.

“We only took a break last 31 December. We have been practicing throughout the holiday season,” Ginebra assistant coach Richard del Rosario said when asked how they are planning to recover and move two wins away from wrapping up the series.

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