Dragons scramble to adjust to Game One ‘manhandling’

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AFTER the Christmas Day “manhandling” at the hands of seasoned PBA finalist Barangay Ginebra, Bay Area buried itself in the task of re-calibrating their schemes to adjust to what the Gin Kings threw at them in Game 1.

“It’s a series, and the ball comes over to our court,” coach Brian Goorjian said after the Dragons suffered a 96-81 beating in the opener of the best-of-seven Commissioner’s Cup championship series.

“We’ve got to play better in the second game. These are young guys, it’s their first experience (in a final). We were manhandled (in Game 1) so the ball’s in our court to make adjustments.”

Mr. Goorjian cited three major things to address for Wednesday’s Game 2 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum: Putting the cuffs on Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, rebounding better and freeing up Andrew Nicholson from the Gin Kings’ rugged guarding.

“Over the course of the game, what stood out was we got to do something on Brownlee,” said the Dragons coach of the Gilas Pilipinas naturalization prospect, who dropped 28 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, on a 9-of-16 marksmanship (56.3%), plus 13 rebounds and six assists.

“We couldn’t keep them off the glass. Scottie Thompson and Brownlee, if they keep rebounding like that, we’re in trouble,” noted Mr. Goorjian, whose wards were badly outrebounded by Ginebra, 58-35, and gave up 19 second-chance points to their rivals.

“Number three: How they played Nicholson. He’s got to be able to move somehow; everywhere he goes to step, a guy steps in front of him, smacks him. We got to come out with some solution. That caught us off-guard because we didn’t think you’re allowed to that,” he added.

Mr. Nicholson, the league’s top scorer, netted a conference-low 27 on a 10-of-17 clip against Christian Standhardinger and the Ginebra defenders.

Overall, it was a poor shooting night for the usually accurate Dragons, who made only 30 of their 78 attempts all night and went 8-of-16 on the free throw line.

Mr. Goorjian also stressed the need to adjust to how the calls are going in the finals. In Game 1, Zhu Songwei committed three early fouls and saw action for 32 minutes, finishing with 12. — Olmin Leyba