GLOBALPORT opened its PBA Commissioner's Cup campaign in fine style on Tuesday, pulling off a confidence-building 100-89 victory over KIA Motors and giant import PJ Ramos at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Except for a brief stretch when they trailed 0-5, the Batang Pier were very much in control of the match behind an effective pressure defense and a sleek running game anchored by top rookie Stanley Pringle.
GlobalPort import CJ Leslie also had an auspicious debut, finishing with a double-double of 33 points and 14 rebounds and four blocks as he used his quickness and athleticism against the 7-foot-2 Ramos.
The forward from Holly Springs, North Carolina led a second-quarter 15-2 surge that gave the Batang Pier a 49-25 lead.
Although KIA managed to close the gap at 85-92 late in the final period, young guards Terrence Romeo and Pringle joined in the scoring fray in the endgame to extend the Carnival’s losing skid to 11 dating back to the Philippine Cup.
GlobalPort coach Eric Gonzales said he is still in a “honeymoon stage” with the lanky Leslie, who came in as a late replacement after Rod Benson failed to make the 6-9 height limit.
“Honeymoon stage kami ng import kasi ang locals wala akong problema dahil December 26 pa lang nage-ensayo na kami, pero thankful ako, nag-deliver siya,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales said he’s happy to see the locals step up defensively, which enabled the Batang Pier to enjoy an 18-8 advantage in points off turnovers and a sizeable 21-8 edge in fastbreak points.
The hulking Ramos marked his PBA debut with 41 points, 20 rebounds, six assists and three blocks, but got little support from a KIA side coached by Chito Victolero in Manny Pacquiao's absence.
Free agent pickup Mark Yee was the only other double-figure scorer for the Carnival with 15 points. He also grabbed five rebounds before fouling out late in the game.
GlobalPort 100 - Leslie 33, Romeo 19, Pringle 17, Miranda 8, Semerad 6, Ponferada 5, Isip 4, Nabong 4, Pinto 2, Baclao 2, Buenafe 0, Taha 0, Caperal 0, Jensen 0, De Ocampo 0.
KIA Motors 89 - Ramos 41, Yee 15, Cervantes 8, Ighalo 8, Revilla 7, Buensuceso 6, Sanga 2, Alvarez 2, Thiele 0, Poligrates 0, Padilla 0, Pascual 0, Dehesa 0, Burtscher 0, Custodio 0.
Quarterscores: 32-22, 56-42, 79-67, 100-89