THERE was no upset this time. The only surprise was one team’s sizzling start in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Barako Bull sustained its impressive run as it held off a determined by sloppy KIA Motors side with a 95-86 victory on Sunday to remain unbeaten in the import-spiced conference.
The Energy led from start to finish, but had to weather a late storm to turn back a Carnival, who who were looking for a fitting follow-up to their shock 88-78 win over Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer as they welcomed the return of playing coach Manny Pacquiao.
Solomon Alabi flirted with a triple-double, scattering 26 points, 20 boards, and eight blocks to lead the way for the Energy, who notched their third successive win, their best start in a conference since the 2012-13 season when the Air21 group took over the franchise.
Barako, which is now on top of the 12-team standings, sharing it with another surprise leader in Meralco, also dealt Kia its third loss in four games.
“We really wanted to make it our goal (3-0),” Energy coach Koy Banal said. “It was all about playing good defense and making good decisions.”
The Energy underscored their defensive prowess by registering a season-high 13 steals, and their high IQ by refusing to crumble when the Carnival were making a late rally.
Kia reinforcement PJ Ramos led the comeback, firing 17 of his game high 34 points in the fourth quarter, where the Carnival came to as close as three points after trailing all the way and by double digits late in the first half.
JC Intal provided ample support for Alabi, tallying 18 points, four steals, and three boards, while Chico Lanete chipped in 10 markers, two boards, two assists, and two steals.
BARAKO BULL 95 – Alabi 26, Intal 18, Lanete 10, Hubalde 9, Garcia 8, Lastimosa 6, Wilson 6, Marcelo 4, Pascual 4, Chua 2, salvador 2, Salva 0, Paredes 0, Sorongon 0
KIA 86 – Ramos 34, Buensuceso 14, Revilla 10, Cawaling 8, Avenido 7, Burtscher 6, Pascual 4, Dehesa 3, Poligrates 0, Webb 0, Alvarez 0, Yee 0, Ighalo 0
Quarters: 22-13; 37-28; 66-56; 95-86