Gin Kings eye back-to-back win versus Bay Area Dragons

Game Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:45 p.m. — Bay Area vs Barangay Ginebra
*Ginebra leads series, 1-0

BARANGAY Ginebra attempts to pull off something that’s not been done throughout the PBA Commissioner’s Cup yet — deal Bay Area back-to-back losses.

Big winners in the Christmas Day finals opener, 96-81, the Gin Kings seek a repeat performance today with a tantalizing 2-nil lead against the powerhouse squad from Hong Kong well on their sights.

But the crowd darlings brace for a major counter-strike from the Bay Area Dragons, who have only lost a total of four games the entire tournament and bounced back big-time each time.

Despite yielding early control, Andrew Nicholson and the Dragons aren’t worried.

“It’s seven games (series). You win some, you lose some. Someone had to win Game 1 and somehow had to lose Game 1. We lost Game 1 so (we’re) looking forward to the second game,” said Mr. Nicholson.

In front of over 18,000 Yuletide revelers, the Gin Kings drew first blood in the duel that has become a virtual fight for Philippine pride against a foreign power, using a stifling defense to hold the Dragons to their lowest output to date.

That’s exactly the start Tim Cone’s charges intended.

“It doesn’t win us a championship, it doesn’t lose a championship for Bay Area but the bottom line is we got the first step forward,” said Mr. Cone. “That was the crucial part. We wanted to set the tone and we did that.”

Bay Area counterpart Brian Goorjian said it’s “the ball is on our court” to adjust after the Game 1 folly and make it a 1-1 deadlock before the league’s New Year’s break.

“We got to play better than we did,” said Mr. Goorjian, whose troops struggled from the three-point area (13-of-42) and lost the rebounding battle, 58-35, in the first outing.

“Everybody saw what happened. They dominated us (in Game 1) and they dominated us in the regular season (elims). So adjustment comes to us, what we’re going to do.”

Mr. Nicholson, who was held to 27, is expected to come back strong as do Hayden Blankley and Kobey Lam, who went on a combined three-of-18 from beyond the arc last time.

Resident import Justin Brownlee, who shot 28 last time, anchors the back-to-back bid of Ginebra in connivance with Mr. Tenorio, Best Player of the Conference contender Scottie Thompson, Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar. — Olmin Leyba