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JUDGMENT DAY: Kings, Dragons clash for all the marbles

Series recap: 
Game 1 — Ginebra 96, Bay Area 81
Game 2 — Bay Area 99, Ginebra 82
Game 3 — Ginebra 89, Bay Area 82
Game 4 — Bay Area 94, Ginebra 86
Game 5 — Ginebra 101, Bay Area 91
Game 6 — Bay Area 87, Ginebra 84

Game today:
(Philippine Arena)
5:45 p.m. — Ginebra vs Bay Area

Tim Cone, the winningest coach in the history of the Philippine Basketball Association, will face the biggest test of his career when his Barangay Ginebra San Miguel battles Bay Area in Game 7 of the Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series tonight at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Cone, who has 24 PBA titles under his belt, will figure in a chess match with an Olympic bronze medalist in Brian Goorjian of the Dragons in the 5:45 p.m. encounter that is expected to draw another massive crowd at the 50,000-seater arena.

Both the Kings and the Dragons have yet to taste back-to-back losses in this midseason conference, proving their coaches’ resolve in making key adjustments.

Cone wants to keep the trend and save the best for last in the final game of the tournament.

Actually, Cone’s winning record while playing at the P9-billion megastructure is quite impressive.

The American mentor, who is hunting for his 25th PBA title, has won five in six encounters, including a title-clinching Game 7 victory over Meralco where the league set a league record for the highest-attended game of all-time of 54,086.

Goorjian, for his part, understands the magnitude of this match and they would love to play the role of gatecrashers in what looms to be a massive Ginebra celebration.
Still, the series will be won by the players.

Justin Brownlee, who just received his Philippine passport, is expected to come out firing, eager to defend the country from invading cagers from Hong Kong.

The three-time Best Import has been rock-solid right from the start as he served as the leading scorer in the championship series with 31.83 points per game.

Aside from being branded as “Justin Noypi” with the way he carries himself inside the outside the playing court, Brownlee also emerged as the top playmaker after dishing out 6.17 assists per game together with 2.67 steals per game.

Brownlee will be the biggest driving force for the home team’s triumph, but Ginebra still needs a balanced production from local players like LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Stanley Pringle, Jamie Malonzo, and Christian Standhardinger to emerge successful.

From Thompson to Pringle to Malonzo and Tenorio, Ginebra’s depth and firepower are expected to be on full display against the powerful Dragons.

But the Kings’ biggest advantage is the crowd support.

From the barangay, the battle had already escalated all the way up to the national level and boiled down into a personal encounter for the country that treats basketball like a religion.

The Filipinos love basketball so much that they don’t want to witness a foreign team celebrating on their home floor for the first time since Nicholas Stoodley won the PBA crown 42 years ago.

Ginebra also has a chance to have a date with history.

The franchise that rose to fame for embodying the “never-say-die” attitude of Robert Jaworski wants to become the latest local squad to beat a foreign side in a PBA championship series since Toyota swept Emtext Brazil of Oscar Schmidt in the best-of-five title showdown of the 1977 Invitational Tournament.

MYLES Powell and Bay Area are looking to become the first foreign team to win a PBA title in 42 years when they battle Ginebra in Game 7 of the Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven title showdown. | Photograph by Rio Deluvio for the Daily Tribune

History also beckons Myles Powell as he is looking to become the first import to play a perfect conference in the PBA.

Coming in as a replacement import at the last minute for injured Andrew Nicholson, Powell powered the Dragons to an 87-84 Game 6 victory following a solid performance of 29 points, seven rebounds and three assists on top of hitting five three-point shots.

Powell has been undefeated in nine games he played and nothing but a championship will be a perfect way to cap that magical campaign.

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