The Bay Area Dragons pulled off a huge win this evening to secure a spot in the EASL Champions Week third-place game, beating hosts and defending B.LEAGUE champions Utsunomiya Brex 96-90.
The Dragons were looking to redeem themselves following a disappointing loss against Seoul SK Knights last night. They faced a Brex team coming off one of the most impressive wins of the tournament – a 33-point rout of PBA powerhouse TNT Tropang Giga on day one.
Tonight’s game at the Nikkan Arena Tochigi, in Utsunomiya, Japan, swung back-and-forth as the teams battled for the win needed to advance to the next round. Brex had the edge going into the half, but with just a two-point cushion it was still anybody’s game. For the Dragons, after a third quarter collapse last night, it was a different story today as they outscored the tournament host by 10 points in the third. They held on to secure a six-point victory over the local favorites.
Many Dragons players contributed today, led by Myles Powell who had an impressive line of 17 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, just three boards shy of a triple-double. Former NBA big man Andrew Nicholson scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, recording his second double-double in as many games. Newcomer Sedrick Barefield provided a spark off the bench, putting up 20 points while shooting 58 percent from the field.
After the game, Powell reflected on how yesterday’s game impacted the team’s mindset going into today: “Yesterday, we were up 19 and we lost in a game that we should have won. Everyone went back to the hotel and had a bad taste in their mouth. We came back today. We watched film. We listened to Coach, and everybody was doing what they were supposed to do. We showed a lot of heart today, and we’re not done yet. Job is not finished. We still got one more to go.”
Utsunomiya’s EASL Champions Week comes to a disappointing end. Their convincing opening night victory over TNT Tropang Giga raised hopes for progression in the tournament. Grant Jerrett was a bright spot for the hosts in tonight’s game, scoring 22 points while collecting eight rebounds.
The Bay Area Dragons will learn tomorrow who they face in the third-place game, as Group A’s matchups who advances to the next round and who goes home. The Dragons will play the runner-up of Group A.