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Ginebra, Bay Area lock horns

Games Sunday:
(Philsports Arena)
4:30 p.m. — San Miguel vs Rain or Shine
6:45 p.m. — Ginebra vs Bay Area

After taking down four minnows, Bay Area faces its first heavyweight foe when the Dragons meet Barangay Ginebra today in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

Armed with wins over Blackwater, NorthPort, Phoenix and Converge, Bay Area will not only have to contend with a star-studded Gin Kings lineup but the squad’s passionate fans in the 6:45 p.m. encounter between the pacesetters and the crowd-favorites.

Bay Area holds an immaculate slate of 4-0 but its head coach, the bemedaled Brian Goorjian, is aware of what their foes bring to the table.

Alongside a powerhouse cast made even deadlier by the recruitment of Justin Brownlee, Goorjian knows his players have to ramp it up to remain unbeaten.

Not only does Ginebra enjoy homecourt advantage of practically all the games, but the team is also well-coached, being handled by no less than Tim Cone, the winningest mentor in the PBA with 24 championships and the only bench tactician to win two grand slams.

Asked about his upcoming head-to-head with Cone, Goorjian, who piloted the Australian national team to the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, expressed a bit of a concern about facing off with his equally-accomplished rival.

“He’s known worldwide. Even when I’m in Australia or I was in the Summer League when he was around Miami, the reputation he’s built. You hear it all through Asia, all through the United States. He’s just a very well-respected man,” said Goorjian on Cone.

“As a coach and as a person, he’s a developer of talent.”

Goorjian, who also made waves in the Australian National Basketball League, seems star-struck or just playing mind games.

“As a coach, it’s fantastic to get the opportunity to play against a team like that and a coach like that. But from our side, staff, everybody, we have nothing but respect for what he’s done here and what he does with his team. We know they’re the fan favorites and it should be a great atmosphere. We just hope we can make it a contest.”

The Gin Kings are coming off a victory over fierce rivals, the Meralco Bolts, 99-91, last Sunday and they can start building a winning run of their own with a win against the tournament leaders.

Andrew Nicholson, a National Basketball Association veteran, will be coming in as a replacement for the explosive Myles Powell.

Under the team’s setup, Nicholson will play for the next four games, the same number of games Powell played previously for the Dragons.

Once Nicholson finishes playing four games, Goorjian will then decide who among the two imports will be used for the entire tournament.

Serving as a fitting appetizer for the Ginebra-Bay Area tussle is the match between Rain or Shine and San Miguel Beer as the Elasto Painters try to extend their winning streak to three.

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