THE Bay Area Dragons are back atop the heap just as the race for the Top 2 in the PBA Commissioner's Cup elimination round is about to wind to a close.
Myles Powell put in another outstanding performance and the Dragons held their ground versus the erstwhile leaders Magnolia Hotshots, pulling off a 95-89 win in a marquee match watched by a good Saturday crowd at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
With the win, the Dragons regained pole position in the leaderboard at 9-2 while relegating the Hotshots to joint second spot with the Converge FiberXers at 8-2.
But the race for the Top 2 and the twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals remains wide open, with the Barangay Ginebra Kings as the fourth contender at 6-2.
The Dragons gained the crucial win as they made a key run to open a 17-point spread in the third period then hung tough in the face of the Hotshots' determined chase in the payoff quarter.
"In the third, we worn them out a little bit and we had the opportunity to pull away," said Dragons coach Brian Goorjian.
The Dragons made some mistakes that allowed the Hotshots back in the game in the fourth, but kept their composure in the battle, with key baskets by Powell and forward Songwei Zhu clinching the win for the team.
"We just believe in each other, and we don't care whoever gets the ball for as long as we come out on top in the end," said Powell.
In the end, though, Powell still paced the team with 32 points that went with 11 rebounds.
Glen Yang added 19 markers plus six assists and five rebounds while Zhu finished with 15 points that went with seven boards and five dole-outs.
Powell himself ignited their third-quarter assault leading to their third straight win since his return. The Dragons are now 7-0 overall with Powell as their import.
Nick Rakocevic had his regular huge double-double for the hotshots with 26 markers and 19 board while Jio Jalalon led the Magnolia locals with 19 markers. (SB)
Bay Area 95 - Powell 32, Tang 19, Zhu 15, Ju 8, Liu 8, Reid 6, Blankley 5, Lam 2, Zheng 0.
Magnolia 89 - Rakocevic 26, Jalalon 19, Lee 15, Sangalang 8, Ahanmisi 6, Abueva 4, Dela Rosa 3, Dionisio 3, Wong 3, Barroca 2, Reavis 0, Corpuz 0.
Quarters: 25-21, 47-44, 73-64, 95-89