ANDREW Nicholson fired 42 points to send the Bay Area Dragons past San Miguel, 94-92, on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena and into the finals of the 2022-23 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Nicholson nailed a three with 1:33 left for a 94-90 lead, enough gap to make the Dragons the first international guest team since the 1980 Nicholas Stoodley team to make it to a PBA regular conference finals.
[READ: Ginebra puts away Magnolia to reach PBA Finals]
San Miguel was able to trim the gap to two but the Beermen missed two shots as the game clock ticked away - a three-point attempt by CJ Perez and a banked shot by June Mar Fajardo that bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
The 3-1 win over the Beermen in the best-of-five semifinal brought Bay Area into the path of another SMC-owned team in Barangay Ginebra, which bundled out archrival Magnolia in four games in the other Final Four pairing.
Game One of the best-of-seven finals will be played on Christmas Day.
Nicholson also got some help from Kobey Lam, who had 26 points including a three to regain the lead for Bay Area, 91-89.
“Three games but two points. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the series, and I’ve been in the game a long time, that was like that. Three of the four games are last second. Incredible,” said Bay Area coach Brian Goorjian.
It was a nip-and-tuck affair with the biggest lead at nine. There were 11 lead changes and 12 ties in the contest.
Perez led the attack for the Beermen with 28 points including a lay-up with 3:12 left in the game for an 89-88 lead, which was the last time SMB tasted the advantage.
Devon Scott had 25 points, 19 rebounds, and eight assists, while Marcio Lassiter had 14 points. Fajardo chipped in nine points and 16 rebounds for SMB, which only got three points from Terrence Romeo.
Bay Area 94 – Nicholson 42, Lam 26, Blankley 12, Zhu 7, Yang 3, Ju 2, Song 2, Liu 0, Reid 0.
San Miguel 92 – Perez 28, Scott 25, Lassiter 14, Fajardo 9, Enciso 5, Cruz 4, Brondial 4, Romeo 3, Ross 0, Manuel 0.
Quarters: 17-16; 46-38; 69-72; 94-92.