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Sports

Bay Area’s dilemma

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

The EASL team Bay Area Dragons’ participation in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup came with two concessions. First, the Dragons may play one of their two imports for the first four games then the second for the next four. On the ninth contest, Bay Area coach Brian Goorjian will decide whom to play – either the first or second import – the rest of the conference. If the import chosen to play starting the ninth game becomes injured or is unable to play, the Dragons may reactivate the other import subject to the rules on notification for change of lineup or up to 12 noon of the day before the contest.

Second, the Dragons are allowed to play their three Chinese heritage players but only two at a time in a game. Under PBA eligibility rules, a player is classified as a local if he has a passport of the country he is representing. The three Chinese heritage players do not carry Chinese passports as China has no provision for dual citizenship. The players are Hayden Blankley, Warren Liang and Kobey Lam. Hayden has an Australian passport and his mother was born in Tianjin. Liang has a Canadian passport and both his parents were born in China. Lam also has a Canadian passport and his grandfather is from China. The other Bay Area players, except for imports Andrew Nicholson and Myles Powell, carry Chinese or Hong Kong passports. Technically, the three Chinese heritage players should be classified as imports because they hold non-Chinese passports but the PBA tweaked the eligibility rule to consider the Chinese law prohibiting dual citizenship.

The PBA’s import replacement policy applies to the 12 existing franchises. An original import may be reactivated only once but a replacement may not be reactivated. An import may be replaced at any time during the conference, including the Finals. Bay Area’s case is unique in that the Dragons are in town with two imports because the EASL season permits each team to play two imports together. The PBA adjusted its import replacement policy for the Dragons because of Bay Area’s situation.

For the first four games, Goorjian decided to suit up Powell who stands 6-0 1/2, making him one of the smallest imports ever to play in the league. Powell, 25, played 11 games for the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA last season. He played on the US squad that took the bronze medal at the Pan American Games in 2019. Powell stamped his mark in the NBA G-League, averaging 17.8 points for the Westchester Knicks and 22.3 points for the Delaware Blue Coats in two successive campaigns.

Nicholson, 32, played for Orlando, Washington and Brooklyn in five NBA seasons. He was traded to Portland for Allen Crabbe in 2017 but never got to play for the Trail Blazers. However, Nicholson continued to get an annual salary of $2.8 million from Portland up to last season, raising his total NBA earnings to over $27 million. Powell will play for Bay Area against Phoenix on Oct. 1 and Converge on Oct. 7. Then, Nicholson takes over in the games against Ginebra on Oct. 9, San Miguel Beer on Oct. 16, Terrafirma on Oct. 21 and Meralco on Nov. 4. Goorjian will then decide between Powell and Nicholson for Bay Area’s remaining elimination games against Rain or Shine on Nov. 11, NLEX on Nov. 13, Magnolia on Nov. 19 and TNT on Nov. 23.

While Nicholson is close to 6-10 and plays multiple positions, Powell is an explosive scorer who hit 41 in his PBA debut against Blackwater and 37 in his second game against NorthPort. Powell has proved to be an electrifying backcourt performer and all eyes will be on Nicholson as he struts his wares starting the game against Ginebra. Who will Goorjian choose to play on the ninth game and the rest of the way?

EASL

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