Gamble pays off for Goorjian as Myles Powell plays big despite injury

Myles Powell made sure that the gamble of Bay Area head coach Brian Goorjian to field him in Game 6 was all worth it.

Bay Area head coach Brian Goorjian (PBA Images)

Powell earned the respect of his head coach as, despite nursing an ankle injury that sidelined him in the playoffs, willed his team to a winner-take-all Game 7 after dropping 29 points including some clutch hits for a rousing return for the Dragons.

The Australian champion coach, although initially against the idea of utilizing Powell in Game 6, admitted that the return of the high-scoring point guard was a much-needed shot in the arm for the injury-plagued Dragons.

“I had exhausted bodies on the floor. What we do and how we play to stay with this team is exhausting. And the guy next to me (Powell) was not in condition to walk into something like that. It’s totally will. His will is shown, his spirit is incredible,” Goorjian said of his import who he initially ruled out for the series after going down with the injury at the end of the eliminations.

Seeing their leader back again playing on the court was also a much-needed psychological boost to the young Dragons squad especially after their other import Andrew Nicholson, as well as starting guard Glen Yang, missed Game 5.

“Our guys, young kids know that about him who’s somebody to play off and we put the ball in his hands in the final five minutes when we were down seven and he took us to the promised land,” added Goorjian.

With Powell's conditioning a concern, Goorjian was actually surprised at how well his import played in Game 6, even diving for a loose ball at one point.

“I’ve been honest all the way through. Myles was done. He wasn’t ready. He hasn’t done anything under his legs. The guy that had conditioning and we thought was the closest that would come back was (Nicholson),” said Goorjian

“And then, the turn for the worst after Game Five was he (Nicholson) will not be able to play in either game. So I get this tap, saying I’m ready. From the fitness guy telling me, the doctor telling me, Myles, saying I want to play. I certainly want him to play (but) I didn’t want to risk his health and I told him that,” he added.

However, despite his initial refusal, Goorjian said the Dragons wouldn’t be able to extend the series to a Game 7 if not for Powell.

“I didn’t know we were going to win. I didn’t know he was going to make the plays he made but I knew that something special was coming onto that floor tonight. And if he was not there, if that spirit was not there, we’ve got no shot tonight