MANILA, Philippines – Zhu Songwei and Andrew Nicholson powered their side for a combined 55 points as Bay Area tied the best-of-seven PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at 1-all following a 99-82 win over Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday, December 28 at the packed Araneta Coliseum.
The former NBA Draft lottery pick Nicholson had a great end to 2022 after pouring in 30 markers, which went along with 15 rebounds, while Zhu added 25 points, 17 coming in the first half, on top of 5 rebounds and 6 assists.
“(Justin) Brownlee is a key factor and this matchup is key. I thought we kept it under control, and it helped us get the lead,” said Bay Area mentor Brian Goorjan.
“Number two is, we competed on them on the glass,” Goorjan added, noting the 44-44 deadlock on the boards.
The Dragons uncorked 9 straight points to start the fourth quarter to lead, 77-63, and just answered every Ginebra run with timely baskets to secure their first win of the season against the crowd favorites.
In Ginebra’s worst finals loss since Game 3 of the 2020 PBA Finals, Justin Brownlee was the lone bright spot with 32 points and 11 rebounds in 44 minutes of play.
Jamie Malonzo was the only other double-digit scorer for the Gin Kings with 10.
After trailing early in the game, 10-4, the Dragons unleashed 6 straight points to knot the game at 10-all.
Following a quick exchange of baskets, Bay Area finally went ahead for good after Zhu banked in a triple to lead, 15-14, 3:30 left in the first.
In the early goings of the second quarter, Ginebra whittled the deficit to one, 21-22, but the guest team outscored their local opponents 30-14 to take a commanding 52-35 lead at intermission.
Bay Area maintained their distance over the Gin Kings behind Nicholson’s 7 points in the third quarter, but saw their advantage go down to 8, 68-60, heading to the payoff period.
LA Tenorio, who drained a conference-high 22 points in Ginebra’s 96-81 triumph in Game 1, was held to 8 points.
Bay Area 99 – Nicholson 30, Zhu 25, Blankley 17, Lam 11, Ju 9, Yang 5, Reid 2, Song 0.
Ginebra 82 – Brownlee 32, Malonzo 10, Thompson 9, Tenorio 8, Standhardinger 8, Pinto 5, J.Aguilar 5, R.Aguilar 3, Pringle 2, Gray 0, Mariano 0.
Quarters: 22-16, 52-35, 68-60, 99-82.