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Dragons torch Elasto Painters, enter semis

We shot the hell of a ball tonight.

Whether it’s Myles Powell or Andrew Nicholson leading the way, Bay Area was still too much to handle for Rain or Shine.

The visiting Dragons — the No.1 team in the tournament — wasted no time in disposing the Elasto Painters, 126-96, and became the first team to advance to the semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup yesterday at the Philsports Arena.

Nicholson flexed his muscles as early as the first half, scoring 26 of his 32 points, but Hayden Blankley took over in the second half and stole the show.

The 22-year-old Blankley scored a personal-best 47 points as he eased up the load on Nicholson, who became the target of the defense.

Only 22 years old, Blankley hit 10-of-13 shots from beyond the arc as Bay Area’s inside and out game provided Rain or Shine a double-barrel headache and ushered it into the exit door.

According to Bay Area coach Brian Goorjian, the Dragons had to re-adjust their game plan in bringing back Nicholson, and the players responded quickly.

The Dragons will now advance to the next round and will face the winner of the other quarterfinal showdown between Converge and San Miguel Beer.

“We shot the hell of a ball tonight,” added Goorjian, referring mainly to the sizzling performance of Blankley, a young, athletic Chinese-Australian cager based in Hong Kong.

But Goorjian believes it’s going to be much tougher for them come next game, especially if they face San Miguel, the defending champion of this import-laced tournament.

“This team, San Miguel, is different from the one we saw in the eliminations and with (Terrence) Romeo and (June Mar) Fajardo, they’re big fella back, plus their depth, it’s going to be a big test for us,” he said.

For the Elasto Painters, their run to the playoffs was short lived, yet they relished the opportunity of coming back to the quarterfinal round after being eliminated the previous two conferences.
But they’re expected to come back with a new import in tow in the season-ending tournament, the Governors’ Cup as Ryan Pearson appears to be not the right fit.
Pearson, measured a shade below the 6-foot-6 height limit in the Governors’ Cup, failed to impress the coaching staff.

The Scores:

BAY AREA (126) — Blankley 47, Nicholson 32, Yang 13, Zhu 9, Song 6, Zheng 5, Lam 5, Liu 4, Ewing 3, Reid 2, Si 0, Ju 0, Zhang 0.

RAIN OR SHINE (96) — Nambatac 19, Pearson 15, Caracut 12, Nieto 12, Asistio 9, Mamuyac 8, Clarito 7, Santillan 7, Belga 3, Ponferrada 1, Norwood 0, Guinto 0, Ildefonso 0, Torres 0.

QUARTERS: 27-16, 60-44, 92-68, 126-96.

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