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HK Bay Area Dragons get back at Gin Kings, level series at 1-1

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THE Hongkong Bay Area Dragons struck back hard at the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Gin Kings, 99-82, in Game 2 on Wednesday night to level the best-of-seven Finals series of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

Unlike in their 81-96 Game 1 loss, the Dragons got into the groove early with Songwei Zhu and Hayden Blankley hitting their targets to frustrate the 16, 044 pro-Ginebra crowd. 

“I said to the group—all of them  do what you did the last game, take your shots, you’ve got my full backing and I’m going to coach the other side of that ball, the rebounding and the defense,” Hong Kong Bay Area coach Brian Goorjian said. 

Andrew Nicholson was superb on both ends and scored 30 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the Dragons. 

But Zhu, who struggled for 12 points in Game 1, came back with 17 of his 25 points in the first half while Blankley scored 17 points in the last three quarters on 7 of 10 shooting from the field—including three triples—plus seven rebounds and five blocks. 

It was pure redemption for Blankley who finished with four points on 2 of 13 shooting from the field with no triples in nine attempts in Game 1. 

“Everything started in our defense,” Zhu said. 

The Dragons posted a 52-35 lead at halftime behind Nicholson and Zhu.

Kobey Lam made 11 points and Glen Robertson Yang added five points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Dragons, who shot 35 of 70 from the field to Ginebra’s 33 of 86. 

Ginebra tried to rally in the second half and came to within 60-68 at the start of the fourth period. But Bay Area didn’t wilt and led by as many as 20 points, 99-79, late in the fourth quarter. 

Justin Brownlee finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Gin Kings. LA Tenorio had eight points, a far cry from his 22 points in Game 1. 

Game 3 is set on January 4 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. 

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