BAY Area hit its immediate target of securing a coveted slot following a 140-108 mauling of hapless TNT Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the PhilSports Arena.
Myles Powell scattered 37 points in just under 31 minutes and got plenty of help as the Dragons ended their eliminations campaign with a fourth straight win to emerge with a 10-2 record.
The likes of 8-2 Magnolia and 7-2 Barangay Ginebra may yet catch the guest team at the top, but it doesn't matter since Bay Area is sure to be rewarded with a top two eliminations finish and a twice-to-beat advantage over a lower-ranked foe in the eight-team quarterfinals.
Winning coach Brian Goorjian believes his team has set itself up well for the coming tougher battles. "We came here to grow and get better and through the competition here and... I think the big plus for our season here is our local (Chinese) kids are really improving," he said.
"I'm really pleased with the development of our young," added the Australian-American. "I'm really thankful for the competition. That's why we're here, they've really helped us grow."
After absorbing its third straight loss that dropped it to a 4-7 slate, TNT's back is now fully against the wall as its chances of making it through are not entirely in its hands.
The Tropang Giga need to prevail over San Miguel Beer on Saturday and hope five wins would be enough to tie them for a quarterfinals slot.
Another possibility, no matter how dim, is that TNT would be among those teams which wind up with only four wins, but they would still tie for a playoff spot due to superior quotient.
If those scenarios are not realized, TNT would not be making it past the eliminations for the first time ever with Chot Reyes as head coach.
Matt Mobley scored a game-high 38 points but only Roger Pogoy and JP Erram were able to backstop their new import with 16 points apiece, with most of those coming when the game was already out of hand for the Tropa.
Jayson Castro could have helped, but he sat it out due to a sprained ankle, watching helplessly as TNT suffered its worst loss since a 71-108 drubbing from Alaska in the 2019 Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals.
Powell was actually benched for good with still 3:59 left in the third quarter, with Bay Area enjoying a 104-72 lead. His absence for the remainder of the game hardly mattered as Kobey Lam took it upon himself to lead the Dragons' homeward charge that netted them as much as a 140-102 spread.
Lam scored 22 of his career-high 30 points in the second half with Zhu Songwei adding 22, Zheng Qilong 16 and Duncan Reid 10 while mostly tending to the boards after 7'5 giant Liu Chuanxing got taken out with an injury, still 3:17 to go in the opening period. (NC)
Bay Area140 - Powell 37, Lam 30, Zhu 22, Zheng 16, Reid 10, Yang 9, Song 7, Blankley 3, Ju 2, Liu 0, Zhang 0, Liang 0.
TNT 108 - Mobley 38, Pogoy 16, Erram 16, Tungcab 13, M.Williams 11, Ogtana 9, Soyud 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Marcelo 2, Khobuntin 0, K.Williams 0, Cruz 0, Heruela 0.
Quarters: 34-24, 80-60, 109-82, 140-108