Bay Area goes for the jugular vs SMB; Magnolia, Ginebra dispute series lead

Bay Area tries to go for the kill and end San Miguel’s title aspirations in Game 3 of their best-of-five semifinals in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the PhilSports Arena on Sunday, Dec. 18.

Andrew Nicholson and Bay Area look to close out the series against San Miguel (PBA Images)

The Dragons already have the Beermen’s neck at the tip of their claws and they look to deliver the finishing blow in the 4:30 p.m. encounter while the Barangay Ginebra Kings and the Magnolia Hotshots lock horns for the series lead in their own affair in the second game at 6:45 p.m.

Bay Area, after making the great escape in Game 1, made adjustments in the second game, resulting in a masterful 114-95 victory and a commanding 2-0 lead last Friday, Dec. 16.

While the Dragons certainly have the momentum, head coach Brian Goorjian refused to get too carried away by the big win as he wants his wards to keep their focus in closing out the series that would allow them to write their names once more to the PBA history books.

Should Andrew Nicholson, Kobey Lam, Glen Yang and Hayden Blankley continue to outplay SMB and eliminate the de facto defending champions, Bay Area would become the first PBA guest team to march into the Finals in 42 years or since the Nicholas Stoodley squad last completed the feat in 1980.

“We want to do everything we can to win what we can. We play one game at a time, I’m not thinking of a sweep. I’m just thinking about the next game and try to win that and keep this momentum going,” said Goorjian.

Staying defiant though are the Beermen who are actually not strangers to such situations, having been able to comeback from a 0-3 deficit in the Finals in the past although team captain Chris Ross stressed that the team should start figuring things out to extend the series.

“We just got to get back to playing the ball we’ve been playing. We’ve been putting our energy in the wrong places, and we need to focus on the things that we need to do,” said Ross.

June Mar Fajardo was the lone bright spot for SMB in the loss putting up 35 points and 10 rebounds but he needs more contributions from his perimeter shooters Terrence Romeo, Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez.

Simon Enciso and Jericho Cruz should also bounce back from a scoreless outing in Game 2 after playing 20 minutes each.

Meanwhile, in the second game, the Hotshots look to take the 2-1 lead after a Paul Lee buzzer-beating jumper allowed them to regain foothold in the Manila Clasico semis against the Kings.

Lee, who scored the go-ahead basket just in the nick of time, is expected to lead Magnolia anew along with import Nick Rakocevic.

Justin Brownlee, meanwhile, whose 34-point explosion went for naught, is also eager to give the semis lead back to Ginebra along with Stanley Pringle, Scottie Thompson and Christian Standhardinger.