Finally. The Kia franchise nailed its second win as a PBA team in the sweetest way possible on February 4, 2015. The extension team who hasn’t tasted victory since their league debut months ago spoiled the return to the hardcourt of Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beer with an 88-78 beating Wednesday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum.
Powered by an early explosion from Puerto Rican import Peter John Ramos, Kia took the early lead, 9-4. San Miguel’s Chris Lutz took matters into his own hands, scoring five straight points to kick off the flurry that gave the Philippine Cup champs the 10-9 lead with five minutes left on the clock. Continued success at the rim for import Ramos sent Kia back to the driver’s seat late in the first quarter. At the end of the period, Kia led 21-17.
JR Cawaling’s hot shooting from beyond the arc and Ramos’ dominance in the paint pushed the Carnival’s lead to eleven, 39-28, with less than four minutes left in the second period. At the half, the lead was still in double digits for the extension team, 46-35.
With Ramos proving unstoppable underneath the rim, the Carnival led by as many as fifteen, 50-35, early in the third quarter. A couple of big baskets from Arwind Santos and Lutz cut the lead to 10, 53-43, but they were unable to further trim the deficit thanks to a fiery performance from LA Revilla and Leo Avenido. By the 4:00 mark of the quarter, the margin had ballooned to as many as 18 points, and the Beermen found themselves facing another setback in the form of reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo picking up his fifth foul with two minutes left in the quarter. Though San Miguel import Ronald Roberts was able to pick up the pace for his team, the Carnival managed to protect their lead, exiting the period with a sizeable 67-53 lead.
Taking advantage of Ramos having to take a break as a result of picking up his fifth foul early in the fourth, the Beermen finally managed to get through the 10-point barrier, cutting the lead to eight, 59-67 with less than ten minutes left on the clock. Keeping the surge alive with an 8-2 spurt, the Beermen finally came within striking distance, 67-69, approaching the halfway mark of the quarter. Ramos’ brief re-entry however paved the way for the Carnival to extend the lead to as many as eleven, 81-70, approaching the final two minutes. Ramos fouled out of the game at the 4:37 mark of the period.
The Beermen were able to come within six in the last two minutes, but Kia responded to the surge by finding their touch at the free throw line. With a minute and a half left on the clock, Fajardo fouled out of the game, leaving the Beermen without their MVP. He had 18 points and 7 rebounds prior to picking up his sixth foul. The extension team only needed to find their touch from the charity stripe to extend the lead to double digits and ice what will probably be remembered as the young squad’s most memorable win.
Revilla took home Player of the Game honors following a 12 point, 5 rebound, 6 assist performance. The Kia franchise puts an end to a twelve-game losing skid that started in the Philippine Cup. They last tasted victory in the season opener against fellow extension team Blackwater Elite last conference. They are now 1-2 in the standings, having dropped their first two games. San Miguel, the previous conference’s champions, are at 0-1.