Prior to the match, Barako Bull was the top offensive team in terms of scoring in the Governor’s Cup thus far but the Kia Carnival managed to limit the firepower of Energy as they were able to hang on a 71-68 thriller held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
The defensive-themed game started as soon as the ball was tipped in; both teams displayed swarming defense to rattle the offensive sets early. Despite triples by Rich Alvarez and Hyram Bagatsing, the scoreboard moved slowly for their squad as they were limited to 13 points in the first 10 minutes of action. Barako didn’t do any better during the stretch when their import Liam McMorrow was denied touches down low. However, the Energy were able to build on a 8-2 scoring run with in the last two minutes of the first frame to hold onto an early lead.
Off the bench, Willie Wilson knocked down a basket to give his team its largest lead of the first half at 29-22. Kia struggled to manage their turnovers, but their defense on the other end made up for it. Jett Chang started to make his baskets to spearhead the Carnival’s late-quarter run as they took the lead thanks to a 10-2 push completed by free throws from Buensuceso. Kia limited Barako to 12 second quarter points, and only trailed by a point heading into the break.
The defensive pressure continued in the third quarter as McMorrow still had a hard time dominating the paint against Kia’s N’Diaye. Still, Barako held onto a slim lead for the majority of the third quarter despite not having the usual offensive spurts in their previous outings. In addition, Energy also muffed three-point attempts that could have possibly blown the game wide open in their favor. Instead, Kia ended up tying the match in the intensely-played canto.
It was a back-and-forth action in the first part of the last quarter, but a mini rally capped by an RR Garcia jumper made it a 67-61 game in favor of Barako just before Kia started to counter. With a little over three minutes to go in the match, a 4-point turnaround went in favor of Kia as Justin Chua blew a wide open layup, while N’Diaye dropped the hammer with a dunk on the other end. Afterwards, Hyram Bagatsing scored on a driving layup shot to give his squad a 69-67 advantage.
Barako Bull failed to convert on their next four possessions to at least tie the game with less than a minute to go. Looking to put the nail in the coffin, LA Revilla attempted but unfortunately missed a triple that triggered Barako to call a ceasefire with 20.5 seconds remaining. Kia would then get the much-needed stop on a Joseph Yeo miss from three-point territory. Bagatsing split his free throws 12 seconds later, but JC Intal and RR Garcia missed the potential game-tying three.
Joseph Yeo, who has scored close to 23 points per game in their previous four outings, played his worst game so far as he did not score in this match after missing all of his 11 attempts. McMorrow was also limited by Kia’s swarming defense as he only had 12 points while also nursing foul troubles all game-long.
Chang led his squad with 15 points while Revilla chipped in 10 markers and five dimes. In addition, the Carnival made four more shots from downtown.
The Energy lost its grip to its top spot in the standings as they slide to a 6-2 record. On the other hand, Kia improves to 4-3 slate.
Barako Bull will next face Alaska on Saturday, 3pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum while Kia’s next assignment will be up against GlobalPort on Sunday, 3pm also at the Big Dome.
Kia(71) – Chang 15, Revilla 10, Bagatsing 9, Thiele 9, N’Diaye 8, Deutchman 8, Alvarez 5, Webb 4, Buensuceso 3, Nuyles 0, Dehesa 0, Cawaling 0, Pascual 0
Barako Bull(68) – Lanete 13, Lastimosa 13, Garcia 11, Maierhofer 9, Intal 4, Wilson 4, Pascual 2, Yeo 0, Hubalde 0, Chua 0, Ababou 0
Quarters: 18-23, 34-35, 54-54, 71-68