KIA has just claimed a scalp from which, like three others, has sat many crowns.
The Carnival included Alaska in its list of big victims with a 103-89 win Tuesday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the league’s last playdate before the All-Star Weekend.
PJ Ramos came up with a monster game of 36 points and 33 rebounds and got plenty of help from Karl Dehesa, JR Cawaling and LA Revilla in the stirring win that stoked their drive for a playoff spot in only their second tournament with the league.
Even Leo Avenido and Reil Cervantes got into the act in the fourth quarter, when Kia broke away for good from an 81-77 count with a flurry of baskets from both inside and out to post as much as a 102-84 lead before cruising to their fourth win in nine games.
Ramos’ 30-30 game is the first the PBA has seen since Meralco’s Brian Butch put up 41 points and 30 rebounds in the same tourney last year while the 7-4 Puerto Rican’s 33 rebounds is the most since Purefoods’ Antonio Smith hauled down the same number of boards in the 2005 Fiesta Conference in a loss to Sta. Lucia.
Local support for Ramos spelled the big difference this time as the Carnival added Alaska’s head to those of previous multi-titled victims San Miguel Beer, defending champion Purefoods Star and Talk ‘N Text.
Dehesa scored 14 points and fellow reliever Cawaling boomed in his first three three-point tries for 13 and Revilla finished with 10 points, five rebounds, as many assists and two steals.
Revilla shone the brightest during Kia’s most decisive breakaway by scoring two of his points, issuing a nifty assist for Cervantes’ reverse and swiping the ball for another Cervantes basket.
“I challenged the boys to play hard this time,” said Chito Victolero, who is calling the shots while Kia playing coach Manny Pacquiao is preparing for his fight against Floyd Mayweather.
“In our last game we were flat,” added Victolero, referring to a 104-115 loss to fellow expansion team Blackwater last Saturday. “The goal is to get to the playoffs, but I told the boys to just focus game-to-game. I think we’re more motivated right now.”
Damion James notched 25 points and 16 rebounds to lead Alaska while Cyrus Baguio, Sonny Thoss and Calvin Abueva each had 11 points.
But the absence of Dondon Hontiveros, who is attending to a personal matter, the early nose injury that sidelined JV Casio from the 5:35 mark of the first quarter on and the listless game by the Aces as a whole did them in as they suffered a fifth loss in seven games.
Good thing the league takes a one-week respite for the All-Star Weekend in Puerto Princesa City, a break Alaska and the other teams struggling to make the eight-team playoffs could use to hone form.
Kia intends to do just that before taking on NLEX on March 18. Its last elimination round assignment is against Rain or Shine on March 22 with the Carnival needing to win both games to realize its immediate goal.
“Ngayon we’ll try to rest muna,” said Victolero after their third game in a week. “The players deserve to rest. After the All-Star break we prepare for NLEX. Rest muna then after two days we return to practice.”
Kia certainly let it all hang out against Alaska, shrugging off an early seven-point deficit before seizing control late in the first quarter and pouring it on even more the rest of the way.
In the end and thanks largely to Ramos’ huge inside presence, Kia made 36 of 72 field goal attempts, including 10 of 24 shots from beyond the arc.
Alaska made just 31 of 86 shots and missed 14 of 17 three-point attempts and consequently only had 11 assists to Kia’s 25. (NC)
KIA 103 – Ramos 36, Dehesa 14, Cawaling 13, Revilla 10, Cervantes 6, Avenido 6, Buensuceso 5, Thiele 4, Alvarez 3, Poligrates 2, Pascual 2, Yee 2, Webb 0.
ALASKA 89 – James 25, Thoss 16, Baguio 14, Abueva 11, Banchero 7, Manuel 6, Jazul 4, Dela Cruz 4, Eman 2, Dela Rosa 0, Exciminiano 0, Espinas 0, Casio 0, Menk 0.
Quarterscores: 28-27, 53-49, 77-67, 103-89
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