The Kia Carnival are here to stay. The league expansion team took down another one of the previous conference’s finalists, toppling the Alaska Aces for a 103-89 victory Tuesday afternoon, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Alaska and Kia traded baskets for most of the early first quarter, with Alaska taking the steady lead at the halfway mark. Big baskets from Damion James and Rj Jazul led Alaska to an 18-11 lead, solidifying their hold on the driver’s seat. But the Carnival showed no signs of letting the Aces drive by with ease. Late in the quarter, JR Cawaling knocked down back-to-back treys for Kia, forcing a 25-25 deadlock in the final minute of the quarter. After the buzzer, the Carnival led by a thread, 28-27.
Powered by PJ Ramos, Kia, still hot from the previous quarter’s late surge, led by as many as eight points, 39-31, early in the second. Ramos’ dominance at both ends of the court kept Kia ahead of the chase for most of the quarter. But the final minutes of the period saw Damion James rally the Aces back to life, and with less than a minute left of the clock forced a 49-all deadlock. Ramos however responded to his fellow imports’ last minute push two straight baskets, handing Kia a 53-49 lead at halftime.
The second half opened to another trade of baskets between the two imports, with Kia holding on to the lead, thanks to treys from eagle-eyed Leo Avenido and Karl Dehesa. A triple by JR Cawaling gave Kia their first double-digit lead of the game, 73-63. At the end of another 12 minutes, the Carnival still led by double digits, 77-67.
A three from Avenido gave the Carnival an 80-67 lead in the opening minute, but what followed was the spark that the Aces needed. Powered by their important James, the Aces completed a 9-0 run to come within four, 76-80, with nine minutes left in the quarter. But the Kia locals responded by dousing the flames, outgunning the Aces in the next three minutes of play. With just around six minutes left to play, the Carnival by double digits once more, 90-79.
A reinvigorated Reil Cervantes added more firepower for Kia and entering into the last two minutes, they led by a convincing 98-84. Time was on their side, as the Carnival needed only to sink one more for every bucket sunk by the Aces to keep their lead. They later exited the court with the win in tow.
PJ Ramos led Kia with a staggering 36 points and 33 rebounds. Damion James led Alaska with 25 points and 16 rebounds of his own. Karl Dehesa led the Kia locals in scoring with 14 points off the bench. This win helps Kia improve to 4-5. Meanwhile, Alaska slides to 2-5.
Ramos 36, Dehesa 14, Cawaling 13, Revilla 10, Cervantes 6, Avenido 6, Buencuseso 5, Thiele 4, Alvarez 3, Yee 2, Poligrates 2, Pascual 2
James 25, Thoss 16, Baguio 14, Abueva 11, Banchero 7, Casio 6, Manuel 6, de la Cruz 4, Eman 2, Jazul 4
Quarters: 28-27, 53-49, 77-67, 103-89