Bay Area came out with a vengeful performance in Game 2, starting strong and ending the match with authority to score a decisive 99-82 triumph over Barangay Ginebra in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
The win allowed the visiting Dragons to level their best-of-seven championship series at 1-1 as the two teams ended the year on even terms and turned the championship showdown into a virtual best-of-five affair when the tournament resumes on 4 January.
A big crowd of 16,044 packed the Smart Araneta Coliseum as the league returns to the Big Dome for the first time in more than a month.
These spectators, the majority of those rooting for Barangay Ginebra, went wild when the Gin Kings mounted a rally from 17 points down at the half, 52-35.
But the Dragons, who had yet to taste back-to-back losses in the tournament, made sure they’ve learned their lessons from their previous 96-81 loss in the series opener.
The Dragons didn’t rely much on import Andrew Nicholson as Zhu Songwei stepped up big.
Zhu scored 17 points in the first half as the Dragons dominated the Gin Kings in the first 24 minutes of play.
Then, there’s Hayden Blankley, who missed all his nine attempts from beyond the arc in Game 1, but caught fire when needed most.
He had a buzzer-beating triple before halftime, then picked up his excellent shooting in the second half and knocked in two more in the fourth period to quell repeated Ginebra uprisings.