The fire-breathing Dragons continue to incinerate everything on their path.
Hayden Blankely and Andrew Nicholson provided a lethal 1-2 punch that powered a masterful 126-96 victory over Rain or Shine in their quarterfinals matchup in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the PhilSports Arena on Friday, Dec. 9.
The twice-to-beat Dragons didn’t even have to use the quarterfinals incentive they got after topping the eliminations as Blankley's scintillating shooting and the imposing presence of Nicholson inside the paint proved to be enough to eliminate the Elasto Painters and advance to the semifinals.
Blankley waxed hot and displayed impeccable accuracy from the deep with an efficient 10-of-13 shooting to finish with game-high 47 points on top of his 10 rebounds while Nicholson complimented his outside threat with 32 points and eight rebounds.
Bay Area now awaits the winner of the best-of-three quarterfinals pairing between San Miguel Beer and Converge in the other bracket.
The Elasto Painters actually looked good in containing Nicholson, who took the place of Bay Area’s injured import Myles Powell, in the first quarter with a series of double and triple team setups that forced him to give up the ball.
The ploy, however, didn’t play out to the Elasto Painters’ expectations as the Dragons made them pay with their local players converting on the kickout passes led by Blankley and Glen Yang.
Bay Area quickly established a 20-point lead midway through the second frame following a booming triple from Kobey Lam but Rain or Shine unleashed its own 16-3 run that chopped the lead down to single digits, 49-40.
Bay Area, though, quickly restored order with three straight treys from Yang, Nicholson and Blankley to take a huge, 60-44 lead at the half.
Rain or Shine showed some semblance of life in the second half behind Gian Mamuyac and Rey Nambatac but they never really got into a run big enough to threaten Bay Area the rest of the way.
Nambatac paced the Elasto Painters with 19 points while import Ryan Pearson added 15 points. Mike Nieto and Andrei Caracut added 12 points apiece but were not enough for Rain or Shine to drag Bay Area to a sudden death.