MANILA, Philippines – KIA Carnival took full advantage of an out-of-condition San Miguel Beermen to halt their 12-game losing slide with a major 88-78 upset of the Philippine Cup champions in the 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Wednesday, February 4 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 7-foot-3 import PJ Ramos, despite fouling out with under 5 minutes left in the game, dominated the paint and was a pain for San Miguel to defend as he tallied a game-high 22 points along with 8 rebounds.
Guard LA Revilla had 12 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. While Mark Yee and JR Cawaling added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for KIA, which scored its second franchise win since beating fellow expansion team Blackwater last October.
"That's our problem before, how we finish the game. I give credit to our players," said assistant coach Chito Victolero, who handled the team sans head coach Manny Pacquiao.
"PJ fouled out but the locals stepped up. That's what I was pointing out at the start of the conference, and the locals did it now."
The Carnival set the tone of the game from the first half, building 11-point bulges that the Beermen had trouble breaking through with a poor 35% shooting compared to KIA's 53%.
They then stretched the lead to 18 in the third, 65-47, before the Beermen rallied back with an 8-0 run to open the fourth, which cut the deficit to 67-59.
The Beermen pushed further and came to within 71-69, but the Carnival, with instructions from Pacquiao over the phone at halftime to maintain aggressiveness, mounted a 10-1 counterattack to build an 11-point advantage with 2:44 remaining.
The cold-shooting San Miguel had no ammunition for a last-minute comeback as reigning PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo fouled out with 1:24 left, and last conference's Finals MVP Arwind Santos fired bricks from beyond the arc all game long.
"Siguro timing lang din yun," said Victolero, who also shared the Pacquiao immediately called him after the game to congratulate the team. "Siguro blessing din sa amin, alam naman natin kung nasa kundisyon yung San Miguel mahirap yan talunin."
(It's just good timing for us. It's a blessing for us because we know that if San Miguel is in better condition, they're much more difficult to beat.)
Coming off their championship run just over a week ago, San Miguel came out flat in their first game this conference, much like Finals antagonists Alaska Aces versus Purefoods on Tuesday night.
Fajardo topscored with 18 points, 10 of which came in the fourth despite foul trouble. He also had 8 rebounds.
Import Ronald Roberts also shared the scoring load with 18 points on top of 22 boards as Santos settled for 14 points on a miserable 0-of-10 from three-point land.
The road gets tougher for the champions as they lock horns with a hungry Barangay Ginebra longing for its first win this conference on Sunday, February 8. Meanwhile, KIA faces Barako Bull also on Sunday.
Kia (88) - Ramos 22, Revilla 12, Yee 11, Cawaling 10, Avenido 9, Pascual 8, Dehesa 5, Burtscher 4, Buensuceso 4, Poligrates 3, Alvarez 0, Ighalo 0.
San Miguel Beer (78) - Fajardo 18, Roberts 18, Santos 14, Lutz 8, Tubid 7, Ross 5, Lassiter 4, Cabagnot 2, Pascual 2, Kramer 0, Fortuna 0, Semerad 0.
Quarters: 21-17; 46-35; 67-53; 88-78