KIA overpowers slumping Alaska for 4th win
MANILA, Philippines – KIA Carnival certainly has a penchant for taking down powerhouse teams.
After losing to fellow expansion team Blackwater last weekend, KIA continued its assault of champion teams with a 103-89 beating of last conference’s finalists Alaska Aces in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday, March 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
PJ Ramos dropped 36 points, 33 rebounds – the most by any player in almost 10 years, per PBA Head Statistician Fidel Mangonon III – and 2 blocks for KIA, which played sans playing coach Manny Pacquiao who is already in the US for training camp ahead of his bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr on May 2.
KIA, which clinched its fourth win in 9 games this conference, added the Alaska to its steadily growing list of victims that include Philippine Cup title-holders San Miguel Beer, Purefoods, and Talk ’N Text.
“It’s just a coincidence,” assistant coach Chito Victolero said in Filipino. “I think we’re more motivated right now. We have better communication inside. We’re trying to build better chemistry in the team.”
A highly motivated KIA clobbered a skidding Alaska, which absorbed its third consecutive defeat, on major fronts including rebounding (59-42), assists (25-11), bench points (43-30), and in field goal shooting (50%-36%).
“I challenged the players to play hard this time because last game we were so flat,” Victolero said. “We had the tendency to relax coming from back-to-back wins. Now, we realized that we need to work hard more in order for us to get to the playoffs.”
Karl Dehesa and JR Cawaling provided the spark off the bench with 14 and 13 points, respectively. While point guard LA Revilla recovered from a lackluster outing against Blackwater with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
The Carnival stayed consistent through every quarter and ultimately pulled away late in the payoff period thanks in large part to Revilla’s pristine playmaking, finding open teammates for easy baskets.
Alaska came as close as 80-76 off a 9-0 flurry 10 minutes into the fourth, but KIA was not shaken and controlled the pace to lead by as much as 102-84 in the final minutes.
With the win, the Carnival are now inside the top 8 teams and in good position to make it to the playoffs.
“Right now the big picture is also to get into the playoffs,” said Victolero. “But we need to do it one game at a time.”
The Aces got 25 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 steals from import Damion James, while comebacking big man Sonny Thoss was a perfect 6-of-6 from the line as he posted 16 points and 6 rebounds after missing all of Alaska’s previous 6 games.
JVee Casio also returned from injury but played just over 6 minutes as he left the game after his nose bled from a collision with Revilla early in the opening period.
Cyrus Baguio and Calvin Abueva wound up with 16 and 14 points, respectively, as the Aces fell to a 2-5. – Rappler.com