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HOOPS

Dragons, Hotshots go for kill

Games Friday:

(Philsports Arena)

3 p.m. – Bay Area vs Rain or Shine

5:45 p.m. – Magnolia vs Phoenix

Visiting squad Bay Area tries to put away Rain or Shine and move to the next phase while Magnolia marches with similar mentality when it faces Phoenix Super LPG in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup on Friday at the Philsports Arena.

The Dragons and the Hotshots, who are both carrying a twice-to-beat advantage, will go for the jugular in an explosive playoff double-header of this midseason conference.

Bay Area, which ended as the No. 1 team in the eliminations, battles Rain or Shine at 3 p.m. while Magnolia collides with Phoenix in the 5:45 p.m. featured encounter.

But on the eve of its playoff match, Bay Area decided to make a drastic change by bringing back Andrew Nicholson to replace its explosive import in Myles Powell.

The Dragons made the confirmation to Daily Tribune, saying that Powell suffered an acute hyperextended injury on his left toe that forced them to recall Nicholson, who averaged 38.5 points with an impressive 94.3 percent shooting from the free throws in four games of the eliminations.

The PBA Commissioner’s Office and the Rain or Shine management also confirmed that they were informed of Bay Area’s decision to bring back Nicholson, who has a tournament-high of 50 points in an 89-92 loss to Meralco on 4 November.

Powell returned and also dropped 50 points in just three quarters during the first time the Dragons walloped the Elasto Painters, 120-87, a week later.

More than that, Powell had led the Dragons to victories in all eight games where he played.

Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said they were not able to prepare against Nicholson as the switch was only announced around noon of Thursday.

“By the time we got the information of Nicholson playing, the practice was about to end, so we didn’t have any preparation against the big import of Bay Area,” Guiao said.

Guiao couldn’t hide his frustrations and felt that Bay Area was given the luxury and the advantage of switching their imports on incidents like this one.

“I don’t know why the guest team was given such arrangement that local teams don’t have,” the outspoken mentor added.

“For example, allowing Bay Area to have two imports on standby and can be tapped anytime.”

“We played without an import in one game as Steve Taylor was placed under health and safety protocols. The same thing happened to Terrafirma’s import Lester Prosper. TNT also played without an import as Cameron Oliver was injured.”

“But Bay Area had the luxury of having somebody playing right away as they have two imports on standby. If such rule was applied to them, I think the PBA should have applied the same rules to its local teams of having two imports on standby and can be used each time one is not available or injured.”

For Guiao, such rule only favors Bay Area, which is already the strongest squad in the tournament.

But even with the change of dynamics following the import change, Guiao believes it won’t affect their chances of being the underdogs.

“They might become even better and stronger.”

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