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Bay Area rallies, edges San Miguel

Top seed Bay Area found the resolve to fight back and complete a come-from-behind 103-102 squeaker over San Miguel Beer at the start of their Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinals series yesterday at the Philsports Arena.

The visiting Dragons had to earn it the hard way as Hayden Blankley and Kobey Lam delivered the telling baskets, allowing them to take the head start in their race-to-three series.

Blankley, the 22-year-old swingman who had a breakout performance against Rain or Shine, scored on a short stab, then after the Dragons came up with a big stop, Lam hit the go-ahead fast break point that capped a big comeback for Bay Area.

The Beermen, who protected multiple double-digit leads, had a chance to snatch the win, but import Devon Scott missed a fadeaway jumper, allowing the Dragons to preserve the victory.

Although Bay Area was able to draw the first blood in the series, head coach Brian Goorjian downplayed the temporary advantage they have against a team he considers as dangerous.

“I just felt that the team which is going to make some key adjustments is going to win the series. It’s going to be a battle of adjustments,” said Goorjian, who led Australia to its first medal in the Olympics last year.

The Beermen, who led by as many as 16 points, were in full control for the most part of the game.

They drew explosive games from CJ Perez and Terrence Romeo — two of the league’s former scoring champions.

Perez carried the load for the Beermen with 24 points and seven rebounds while Romeo, who just returned after being idle for more than nine months, contributed 21 markers.

But the Beermen’s frontcourt production was below par as they were completely outplayed by the bigger Dragons, most notably Andrew Nicholson.

Nicholson had 30 points on top of 15 rebounds and got the better end of the match-up against either six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo or Scott.

Fajardo finished with 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting while also adding eight rebounds.

Even having a lesser output was Scott, who could only come up with nine markers.

“We came out with a different defensive mentality. We played tougher on the defensive end and I like what I saw from our young group,” Goorjian added.

The Scores:
BAY AREA (103) — Nicholson 30, Zhu 19, Blankley 15, Ju 13, Lam 12, Yang 9, Liu 5, Song 0, Reid 0.
SAN MIGUEL (102) — Perez 24, Romeo 21, Lassiter 16, Cruz 11, Fajardo 11, Scott 9, Enciso 8, Ross 2, Brondial 0.
QUARTERS: 23-31, 51-59, 78-89, 103-102.

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