Wednesday, July 24

Dragons thank PBA stint for bronze, eye Manila return      

FUKUOKA, JAPAN—Bay Area believes salvaging a third-place finish in the East Asia Super League (EASL) Champions Week wouldn’t have been possible if not for the club’s stint in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Dragons coach Brian Goorjian swears this.

“My stroke on this is: [This bid] was one of the best experiences, and what a great thing for our first-year team to play in the PBA,” he said on the heels of a 90-70 victory over hometown bet Ryukyu at Okinawa Arena.

“What they learned [there] coming into this was instrumental in us doing what we did,” he added. “We are a much better basketball team than when we landed in Manila.”

Bay Area played in the last PBA Commissioner’s Cup and reached the championship series. The Dragons bowed to Barangay Ginebra in seven games before a record crowd of 54,589, but it did so while also winning the admiration of Filipino fans.

After that, Goorjian and his charges stayed for a while and hosted several clubs and collegiate teams in its makeshift base at Shangri-La in Bonifacio Global City in preparations geared for the five-day showcase that featured top pro clubs from the Philippines, Japan and Chinese-Taipei.

So pleased was the Hong Kong-based outfit that it is mulling another visit in Manila.

The Dragons are going to reconvene by August and between now and then, more details pertinent to such a plan will be revealed, according to Goorjian.

In a separate interview, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said that the PBA leadership is keen on having the Dragons again, citing how massive the experiment of opening the league to a visiting team turned out.

“For sure,” he said when asked if he truly viewed Bay Area’s stint as a success. “We all saw that, didn’t we?”

“I talked to (EASL’s chief operating officer) Matt Beyer and we agreed to discuss further,” he said.

“We’re looking to lay down plans in our next annual meeting—those on the EASL, and those for the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) windows—so we could have a seamless next season,” he added. INQ

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