It’s been 42 years since a visiting squad was able to win a championship in the Philippine Basketball Association, but the Dragons from Bay Area had put themselves in a better position to follow the path of Nicholas Stoodley as the first and only foreign squad to win a championship.
Despite the latest loss that the Dragons tasted at the hands of Meralco in a controversial match last Friday, they remain very much in the hunt for a top two finish, which will give them a twice-to-beat advantage going to the playoffs.
The Dragons carry a 6-2 win-loss record, just half a game behind tournament leader Magnolia.
With still four games left, Bay Area just needs to one win to guarantee itself of a seat in the next round, or three out of four to assure itself of a twice-to-beat incentive.
Dragons coach Brian Goorjian will have to weigh in carefully his next move of choosing who between Andrew Nicholson and Myles Powell will be used as its import their in the remaining games.
The veteran bench tactician had to split the first eight games between the two imports, who can only be allowed to play one at a time.
While Powell led the Dragons to four straight victories, Nicholson had proven his worth as a player who can do things from inside and out.
It’s true, Bay Area tasted its first two defeats in the Commissioner’s Cup with Nicholson on board, but he had made a huge impact in his last few games, including a 50-point performance in a heartbreaking 92-89 loss to the Bolts on 4 November.
He is now the leading scorer among imports with an average of 38.5 points per game on top of being the most accurate free throw shooter, averaging 94.3 percent.
Nicholson’s performance made Goorjian’s job a lot tougher in choosing his next reinforcement, but as a team, the Dragons had proven to be a crack foreign squad which can beat any PBA team on any given night.
Bay Area is the most formidable visiting team to play in the PBA in four decades.
A South Korean team led Lee Chung-hee, which finished third place and beat the Toyota in the 1982 Invitational Tournament, was the last competitive Asian squad that was considered as among the title favorites.
Although Nicholas Stoodley, an American club that was regarded a powerhouse as it was powered by Larry Pounds, Kenny Tyler and Ron Richardson, to win the Invitational crown 42 years ago, Bay Area is definitely a title threat.
Their two imports may have been prevented from playing together, yet the Dragons had proven to be a worthy competitor and credit should also be given to the local players like Glenn Yang, Kobey Lam, Hayden Blankley, Zhu Songwei and 7-foot-5 center Liu Chuanxing.
The Dragons came to the PBA as welcome visitors, but they played like conquerors and ready to dismantle whichever team gets in their way.
They came here to win — and make a good lasting impression as the first foreign squad to capture a championship in more than four decades.