Dragons keeping ‘em at Bay

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Dragons keeping âem at Bay
Tyler Tio of Phoenix tries to cut loose from Ju Mingxin of Bay Area during last night’s game at the Big Dome.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Under the gun early, the Bay Area Dragons spewed fire and racked up 19 unanswered points against Phoenix in the period bridging the last six minutes of the second quarter and the opening minute of the third.

That lopsided exchange turned out to be the game-changer as the Dragons turned the tables on the hot-starting Fuel Masters and won their heated PBA Commissioner’s Cup duel, 101-91, yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

From a 41-25 hole, the guest team from Hong Kong deftly climbed back and wrested control, leading by 19 at one point, 89-70, and not looking back.

It was the third straight win for solo leader Bay Area, which previously demolished Blackwater by 46 points then edged NorthPort by one on a buzzer-beating trey by Myles Powell.

“I was really disappointed at the start of the game. We’re a step off, reaching fouls, giving them a lot of baskets on penetration and transition. But midway in the second quarter and the rest of the game, I thought we did a good job defensively and locked them up,” said coach Brian Goorjian.

“From 16 down, we went almost 20 up so I’m happy with the performance moving forward. We started poor but got better and better as the game went on,” he added.

Tension filled the game with 26.4 seconds left in the third when a fuming Phoenix coach Topex Robinson had to be pacified by team and game officials as he tried to go after Powell.

Robinson apparently had enough of Powell’s “disrespectful behavior” against the Fuel Masters bench. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the game proceeded without further incidents. Robinson and Powell, who were each slapped with a technical foul, hugged and apologized to each other after the game.

“It’s just everyone out there just wanting to win, being competitive. He came up to me and apologized, I apologized back, no hard feelings,” said Powell.

The explosive import, after being held to 10 in the first 24 minutes, finished with a game-high 32 with 10 rebounds. His 17-point explosion in the third sparked the Dragons’ 32-20 salvo that led to their breakaway.

Hayden Blankley and Glen Yang chipped in 15 and 14, respectively, and were largely responsible for the Dragons’ second-quarter fightback.

Javee Mocon, with 22, and Tyler Tio, with 21, paced the Fuel Masters, who couldn’t sustain their torrid 29-16 start and fell to 0-3.

With reinforcement Kaleb Weeson firing 10 in the initial skirmishes and their defenders holding Powell down, the Fuel Masters jumped the gun on the stunned foreign team.

They stretched the fiery opening to the second canto and seized their biggest margin at 41-25 on a Wesson bucket from deep.

Meanwhile, Meralco and Barangay Ginebra tangle today in an explosive matchup of two teams bent on gaining traction after suffering numbing losses in their respective opening assignments.

The Bolts, who blew a 20-point margin in a 101-95 loss to NorthPort last Friday, and the Gin Kings, who were blown out by Rain or Shine last Wednesday, 93-71, seek the bounceback at 6:45 p.m.

The Elasto Painters (1-1), meanwhile, look for back-to-back wins versus skidding Terrafirma (0-2) at 4:30 p.m.

However, things turned south from there for Robinson’s charges, who turned erratic and fired blanks while the Dragons woke up.


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