MANILA, Philippines–Bay Area rebounded from a disappointing Christmas Day defeat with a 99-82 win over Barangay Ginebra that tied the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at 1-1 on Wednesday before 16,044 fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Andrew Nicholson and Zhu Songwei led the way as the Dragons leaned on a strong first half before showing composure amid repeated comeback bids by the Gin Kings to put the series on level terms going into the New Year’s Day break.
It was a huge recovery for the guest team from Hong Kong after Ginebra took the series opener in convincing fashion with a 96-81 at Mall of Asia Arena.
Nicholson, who in the days leading up to the win rued the defensive strategies of Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger, dominated the paint in posting 30 points and 15 rebounds while Zhu recovered from a foul-prone Game 1 with 25 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Hayden Blankley didn’t fire blanks this time and made 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting while Glen Yang’s playmaking was also key as the Dragons seemed more accustomed to Finals basketball.
Game 3 of the series is set Jan. 4 at Mall of Asia Arena, giving the two teams a few days to prepare aside from celebrating the dawn of the new year.
Justin Brownlee delivered 32 points but Ginebra fell 52-35 at halftime and had to play catch up throughout.
Ginebra did cut the margin to five at the start of the fourth on Japeth Aguilar’s three-point play but Bay Area scored 10 unanswered to restore full control of the match.
Justin Brownlee delivered 32 points but it felt like the Best Import frontrunner carried the team throughout as the rest of the Gin Kings weren’t consistent like in Game 1.
Scottie Thompson and LA Tenorio didn’t replicate their vital performances from three nights prior while its defense had no answer to Bay Area’s shooting and Nicholson’s dominance in the paint.
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