By Jonas Terrado
Kiefer Ravena’s debut was nearly spoiled by the impressive display of Kia’s unconventional style of play as NLEX eked out a 119-115 win last night in a rare PBA Philippine Cup doubleheader at The Arena in San Juan.
The Road Warriors had a hard time decoding the Picanto’s much-maligned philosophy that turned out to be a good one at least for one game before catching a big break near the final minute with a Larry Fonacier four-point play that put them ahead 117-113.
Kia had two chances to take the lead when it trimmed the gap in half on the ensuing play but the three-point attempts by Philip Paniamogan and Jay-R Reyes from the left elbow failed to hit the mark, giving NLEX coach Yeng Guiao a huge sigh of relief.
“I don’t know if they shot really well or we’re playing bad defense, but I knew somehow that they gonna miss some shots in the second half,” said Guiao, whose team faced a Picanto squad that made 13-of-36 threes.
“This Kia team is a stronger team than last season, they’ve improved a lot. We’ll take this win no matter how hard it was,” he added.
Kia became an object of ridicule in the offseason by trading the No. 1 draft pick and its best chance at getting Christian Standhardinger to San Miguel for Ronald Tubid, Reyes and Rashawn McCarthy.
Kia, however, never got the result it wanted.
Instead, Ravena’s 18 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds didn’t go to waste as he lived up to lofty expectations labeled at him even before he was chosen second overall by NLEX in the draft.
“He’s gonna be a special player in this league,” Guiao said, obviously giving the former Ateneo star a high passing mark.
Michael Miranda and Kevin Alas added 14 points each for the Road Warriors.
NLEX 119 – Ravena 18, Miranda 14, Alas 14, Mallari 13, Fonacier 12, Al-Hussaini 12, Quinahan 12, Tiongson 11, Baguio 5, Soyud 4, Ighalo 4, Taulava 0.
KIA 115 – Camson 24, McCarthy 14, Corpuz 13, reyes 12, Galanza 12, Celda 9, Ababou 9, Khobuntin 8, Paniamogan 7, Tubid 4, Yee 3, Caperal 0.
Quarters: 36-40, 64-68, 90-92, 119-115.
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