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Kia holds off San Miguel in Governor’s Cup debut



For the second straight conference, expansion team Kia Carnival prevails over the league’s most storied franchise. Powered by the crunch time composure of Alex Nuyles and a late explosion from their two imports, the league newcomers escaped the fiery San Miguel Beermen to take the 83-78 victory, Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Marcio Lassiter opened the ballgame with a triple to give the Beermen the early lead, but it was the Carnival who led all the way from that point. An 8-0 rally spurred by Alex Nuyles paved the way for Kia to take control of the ball game, 13-9. The Carnival held the Beermen to only a single point in the last three minutes to take a 17-10 lead at the end of the first.

Senegalese reinforcement Hamady N’Diaye came alive in the second quarter, helping the Carnival take a 28-21 lead halfway through the quarter and pull away from a resurgent SMB led by returning import Arizona Reid. Baskets from June Mar Fajardo and a triple from Marcio Lassiter towed San Miguel in knotting the game with just around two minutes left in the quarter, 30-all. The lone basket in the last stretch of the quarter came from JR Cawaling, whose trey gave Kia the 33-30 lead at the half. The Beermen were held to meager 9-out-of 39 from the field in the first half.

Kia led 35-30 early in the third quarter, but back-to-back triples from Reid and Lassiter put San Miguel back on top for the first time since the early first quarter, 36-35. Chang Tsung-hsien, the import from Chinese-Taipei, produced his first four points of the game halfway through the quarter to help Kia take back control of the game, 47-42. The Carnival led by as many as twelve in the next few minutes before a late San Miguel rally trimmed the lead to seven points at the end of the quarter, 58-51.

Kia would manage to hold on to the steady lead in the fourth quarter care of their two imports, who made up for their slow start by sinking the right shots to protect the lead. A triple by Arizona Reid cut the lead to a single digit, 73-72 late in the quarter, but Kia’s Alex Nuyles responded on their end of the court with a hug three of his own to make it a four-point game with just two minutes left to play. Two free throws care of Chang extended the lead to six with just 1:44 left on the clock.

Just as the final minute clocked in, Alex Cabagnot injected some life in the San Miguel cause, nailing three straight free throws after getting fouled on the three-point line, making it a three-point game, 78-75. The Beermen sealed another chance at keeping the game alive after Ronald Tubid managed to swipe the ball during the inbound before calling for another timeout.

Marcio Lassiter however ended up bricking what could have been the game-tying triple, with the Carnival corralling the rebound. Alex Nuyles once again played hero for the expansion team, nailing two straight free throws and later on making a massive steal en route to a fastbreak lay in. Nuyles’ four-point burst gave the Carnival the 81-75 lead with just 34.9 left on the clock.

Former MVP Arwind Santos kept the flame alive for San Miguel in the next play, sinking the quick triple to come within three once more, 78-81, with just two more seconds elapsed since the previous play.

N’Diaye, the debutant reinforcement managed to sink two more free throws with 21 seconds left to extend the lead to five. No Beerman could manage to convert in the final possession of the ball game, and at the buzzer it was Kia who walked away with the win.

Nuyles was named Player of the Game with 18 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Imports N’Diyae and Chang had 21 points and 6 rebounds and 14 points respectively, coming alive in the second half after a forgettable first two quarters. Arizona Reid led San Miguel with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The Scores:
KIA 83  – N’Diyae 21, Nuyles 18, Chang 14, Dehesa 8, Yee 7, Revilla 6, Thiele 4, Cawaling 3, Deutchman 2, Ighalo 0, Webb 0, Alvarez 0, Buensuceso 0, Pascual 0, Bagatsing 0.

SAN MIGUEL 78 – Cabagnot 18, Reid 17, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 11, Santos 5, Reyes 4, Espinas 4, Lutz 3, Tubid 3, Ross 1, Semerad 0.

Quarters: 17-10, 33-30, 58-51, 83-78