Nicholson-less Dragons equalize series 2-2 vs Ginebra in PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals

MANILA, Philippines – Even without super scorer Andrew Nicholson, the Bay Area Dragons overcame the odds to win game four, 94-86 and even the series 2-2 on January 6, 2023 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Nicholson-less Dragons equalize series 2-2 vs Ginebra in PBA Finals
Kobey Lam with the “Mamba Mentality” dropped 30 points to secure game 4 win and series equalizer. Photo Credit: PBA

What’s the best way to start finals Game 4 for Ginebra? It’s by playing with the momentum on your team’s side due to a hard-fought Game 3 win and fielding in your newly-crowned Best Import of the Conference and Best Player of the Conference in Scottie Thompson and Justin Brownlee respectively.

With these feats, the Gin Kings opened the pivotal game number 4 with oozing confidence and started the game waxing hot from all angles of the floor to post a rare early-game-lead.

The Bay Area Dragons however, carried on without their monster import Andrew Nicholson who is nursing an ankle sprain which he sustained in the dying seconds of the previous game. The agile NBA veteran was replaced by big man Duncan Reid.

The Dragons, despite playing without Nicholson, still managed to close the first twelve minutes at even level, 19 apiece, where Kobey Lam was their top scorer while Thompson bested his squad.

On one hand, Ginebra began to dominate the second quarter, this time, courtesy of Christian Standhardinger who also contributed significant numbers in game three. On the other hand, Bay Area wasn’t in its usual self as its players were not converting their triples and not getting enough boards.

Ginebra posted its first double-digit advantage of the game at the five minute mark. The Dragons shifted their game plays on the paint spearheaded by Glen Yang as their three pointers continued to skid.

Bay area made a decent run in the final minutes of the first half but the BPC, Brownlee and the gang held their ground to sustain an adequate 46-38 lead entering the third.

The Dragons may have not capitalized on their shooting prowess in the first half. But in the second half, Lam started to sizzle from the downtown to trim Ginebra’s lead into a more manageable number.

In just a blink of an eye, the Gin Kings found themselves ahead of the Dragons by just a half shot with over three minutes left in the third period. Lam had been instrumental in Bay Area’s courageous comeback.

Aside from missing Nicholson, the Dragon’s also missed Hayden Blankley’s offensive efforts, who was pretty consistent in the previous games.

The Dragons successfully grabbed the lead but it was mere momentary as the Gin Kings reclaimed it, 61-60 just before the end of the penultimate quarter.

The pressure was on for Ginebra as Bay Area finally controlled the ball game at the start of the final canto.

Yang almost gave his team a heart attack as he landed on Thompson’s foot after a drive. But an injury didn’t bother the flashy guard as the Dragons slowly flew away with a big advantage for the potential series equalizer.

Japeth Aguilar who has been playing subpar in the series ignited the crowd with two consecutive slams. But still, Bay Area’s lead was in double figures.

Brownlee attempted to make a rally like what he’s used to but it was too late as the Bay Area’s lead was too big to be brought down in a few remaining minutes.

At the final sound of the buzzer, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel succumbed to Bay Area Dragons, 94-86 and let the visitors even the series 2-2.

Game five will be on Sunday, January 8 where the winner will have the biggest advantage. The question remains for Bay Area though if Nicholson will be fielded in or backup import Myles Powell will be reactivated in the virtual best-of-three.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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