There have been 13 guest teams that have participated in the PBA over the last 46 seasons. However, only two teams, Northern Cement and Nicholas Stoodley, won championships back in the 80s. The fourteenth team, the Bay Area Dragons, made quite the statement during the opening game of the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup and have firmly placed themselves as a potential title contender one game in.
Sure, the Dragons opened their PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign against perennial cellar dweller Blackwater Bossing, but a 133-87 win is still… a 46-point win no matter how you put it.
Myles Powell nearly matched that margin, as he had 41 points on 71 percent shooting from inside the 3-point line. His defenders seemed overmatched as they usually encountered guards that were young, athletic, or could finish in a variety of ways. In Powell, they encountered a combination of all that despite their best efforts in defending (and fouling) him. It’s safe to say that the former Seton Hall Pirate, who had 25 points at halftime, will be having some fun in this conference.
Put together in 2021, it’s hard to believe that Bay Area was a newly-formed team with the way they played. The passing was pretty much evident in this game and while they only had one more assist than the Bossing (24-23), the Dragons had six players with more than one assist to Blackwater’s four. Much of that ball movement opened up scoring opportunities both in the paint and from behind the 3-point line. Powell going off was certainly a handful for the Bossing to deal with, but when the rest of Bay Area got involved, it was night night.
The tuneup games prior to the start of the Commissioner’s Cup were certainly beneficial to the Dragons’ assimilation into Philippine basketball as they committed less fouls than Blackwater (24-18) and committed only nine turnovers to the Bossing’s 14. Not only was it an understanding of how teams defend, but it also revealed tendencies Bay Area could exploit. More games equals more experience, which is good for the Dragons, but their opponents now realize more reps could mean more chances for the weaknesses in their games to reveal themselves. That too could become an issue for Bay Area later on, but so far things have been good for them.
One has to love how the Dragons did not let up even when they were comfortably ahead. Part of it may have also stemmed from Bay Area head coach Brian Goorjian trying to instill his system in a game setting with real implications. Goorjian’s players understood their roles and found ways to get themselves and their teammates open. Games won’t always play into their favor the way it did against Blackwater, but if the Dragons continue to keep the same energy, even the most trying of contests could slowly swing in their favor.
The 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup will serve as a great buildup for Bay Area, who will compete in the East Asia Super League (EASL) that will start next month along with the 2022 Honda PBA Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen and the TNT Tropang Giga. The Dragons are grouped with the Tropang Giga in EASL’s Group B, while Bay Area will face the Beermen in the Commissioner’s Cup on October 16. Naturally, one has to wonder how the Dragons (and of course SMB and TNT) will balance playing in two leagues simultaneously. This is uncommon in a sport like football, but basketball is a different ball game entirely and how Bay Area will manage their players and prioritize games will be an interesting development to take note of, especially when the Dragons can contend for titles in both.
The Bay Area Dragons certainly kicked off the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup with a resounding win over the Blackwater Bossing, putting the rest of the league on notice. There’s certainly a lot of basketball to be played in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup and in the East Asia Super League, but it seems like the Dragons could be the guest that could shake things up.