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History beckons

The shiny Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup trophy will not be the only prize when Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Bay Area collide in Game 7 of their best-of-seven finals series.

History will also be at stake with the Kings looking to become the first team after Toyota to beat a foreign squad in the PBA finals while the Dragons wanting to become the first foreign side to rule the league since Nicholas Stoodley won the title 42 years ago.

The Tamaraws swept the great Oscar Schmidt and Emtex Brazil in the best-of-five championship series of the 1977 Invitational tournament.

Three years later, it had another chance to prevail over another foreign team but Nicholas Stoodley, then bannered by former PBA imports Larry Pounds and Kenny Tyler, stood tall and wrapped up their best-of-three title showdown, 2-0.

The Dragons and the Kings will also clash in a historic match that is heavily expected to shatter the national record for most watched game in the PBA, which is 54,086 tallied during Game 7 of the 2017 Governors’ Cup finals between Ginebra and Meralco.

Originally set Friday, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial announced that Game 7 will be moved to Sunday at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bulacan due to the clamor of fans who are eager to witness the best local team defending its home turf against a well-oiled, disciplined squad from Hong Kong.

With that, the league will provide shuttle service for fans and media who will cover the encounter.

The rides will be on a “first come, first served” basis and FMR buses will be on standby at their terminal in Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City starting 1 p.m.

With an interesting storyline featuring the league’s crowd darlings going up against powerful invaders, the sudden-death encounter has turned out to be a blockbuster with Bay Area coach Brian Goorjian preparing his boys for a hostile arena.

“I’ve never been part of anything like this,” Goorjian said.

“How special it is to be in the arena and how great this basketball series has been. What’s coming up next Sunday is going to be incredible.”

Goorjian is not a stranger coaching on a bigger stage.

He made his mark in the National Basketball League and led Australia to its first ever Olympic medal — a bronze — in the Summer Games in Tokyo in 2021.

But he admitted that he had never seen anything like this with the entire country buzzing with excitement in anticipation for the winner-take-all contest.

“I don’t care when it’s played. I’m just excited to be a part of it,” Goorjian added.

“Whatever is best on what’s going on here (Philippines), I have absolutely no complaints. But what an honor to be a part of it. Again, I’ve never been involved in anything like this. I can just imagine sending this to everybody back home and tell them, ‘look at the venue, listen.’ What’s coming up next is something I’m gonna treasure and my team is gonna treasure forever.”

Goorjian added that they don’t care whether the entire country will be against them as their focus is to book the next flight to Hong Kong clutching the trophy after four grueling months of battle.
“I love this,” Goorjian added.

“Coming in here and being in the environment whether they’re cheering for you or not, it doesn’t matter. We play basketball for entertainment. A lot of people are in bubbles, playing in front of a 1,500 people. We have 50,000 people waiting for us. That’s the reason why we’re here. That’s why we’re breathing.”

Sending the series to a Game 7 and getting extra time after the league announced that the winner-take-all showdown has been pushed back to two more days will certainly give Bay Area import Myles Powell an extra time to get even better.

Powell returned in Game 6 and delivered the much-needed baskets to keep the Dragons breathing and staying alive in the series.

With a few more days to allow his body to recuperate after coming off an acute hyperextended toe injury, Powell is expected to gather all his strength and skill set for one final push.

“Extra time is good for us, no problem there,” Goorjian added.

For Powell, coming back was all worth it.

“Even if we lost Game 6, I would be happy going out there with my brothers,” Powell, who won all his nine stints with the Dragons, added.

“Win, lose or draw, I want to be out there. I didn’t know how I would perform, but my spirits were there and I had my brothers’ back and I just put it in God’s hands and we came out on top.”

Now, Powell has a chance to keep his personal winning streak going and there’s no other way to seal that by going for the kill in Game 7.

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