Nicholson back for Bay Area?

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

It appears likely that EASL guest team Bay Area will suit up NBA veteran Andrew Nicholson for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal game against Rain or Shine at PhilSports Arena tomorrow with news that Myles Powell rolled his ankle in practice.  The issue was unsettled at presstime as EASL Philippine head Banj Albano said doctors were being consulted on Powell’s condition and coach Brian Goorjian still had to make a decision on a possible change depending on the medical report.

PBA deputy commissioner Eric Castro confirmed that the deadline to make a change is before noon today. Castro said if Bay Area submits a notice of replacement, it must be accompanied by a medical certificate on Powell’s injury status. “We will need to verify with our official doctor,” he said.  “We will allow Nicholson to replace Powell if it is requested by Bay Area and the medical certificate is confirmed. We will also allow Powell to come back and replace Nicholson at any time. Nicholson will not need to submit a medical certification of an injury for Powell to return. But Nicholson will no longer be permitted to come back and if Powell is injured later, he may not be replaced anymore and in this case, Bay Area will play without an import.”

The concession of alternating Powell and Nicholson was granted to the guest team because the original plan was for both imports to suit up for the Dragons in the inaugural EASL season which was initially set to begin last October.  But because of COVID and travel restrictions making a home-and-away format a difficult proposition, EASL decided to postpone the launch and adjust the format to a Champions Week on March 1-5 in Japan. San Miguel Beer and TNT will represent the PBA in the eight-team Champions Week. The home-and-away EASL season will kick off in October next year.

The Dragons finished the eliminations on top of the heap with a 10-2 record. Magnolia also wound up at 10-2 but took the No. 2 spot because of a 95-89 loss to Bay Area in the prelims. In the quarters, Bay Area enjoys a twice-to beat advantage over No. 8 Rain or Shine.  Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao said the Dragons are “too strong” and “I have no idea how to beat them,” citing the team’s advantages in import, height and chemistry. But that’s typical of Guiao to goad his opponent into a sense of security. Guiao’s a crafty tactician with loads of experience and a master of mind games so fans aren’t counting out Rain or Shine in the series. It’ll be tough to beat Bay Area once and a stretch to take down the Dragons twice in a row.  Rain or Shine bowed to the Dragons, 120-87, in the elims and the 33-point margin was a testament to Bay Area’s firepower. Still, the Elasto Painters are a resilient, gritty bunch and Guiao is sure to unravel a fighting gameplan. The contest is set tomorrow.

The winner of the Bay Area-Rain or Shine duel advances to the best-of-five semifinals against the survivor of the Converge-San Miguel Beer best-of-three quarters series. In other quarters matchups, Magnolia takes a twice-to-beat edge against Phoenix while No. 3 Ginebra battles No. 6 NorthPort in a best-of-three tussle. If the Hotshots and Ginebra move up, they’ll figure in a Manila Clasico best-of-five semis that could spill over to Christmas Day.



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