KIA Motors leaned on the endgame heroics of new boy Alex Nuyles and imports Hamady N’Diaye and Jet Chang to carve out an 81-78 upset win over San Miguel Beer to kick off its PBA Governors' Cup campaign on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Acquired late in the Commissioner’s Cup from fellow expansion side Blackwater in a trade for Reil Cervantes, Nuyles wasted no time contributing to KIA’s cause by pumping in a PBA career-high 18 points, along with six rebounds and two steals.
His quick hands saw Nuyles grab the ball from ailing San Miguel import Arizona Reid before scooting home for a layup to give KIA some breathing room, 81-75 with 34.9 seconds to go.
Arwind Santos knocked down a three-pointer for San Miguel in the ensuing play, but N’Diaye hit two free throws to preserve KIA’s second straight win over the Beermen - a timely tonic for Carnival playing coach Manny Pacquiao who lost to Floyd Mayweather over the weekend.
“Yung import namin was a big factor,” said KIA’s lead assistant coach Chito Victolero, referring to N’Diaye, who finished with 21 points, six rebounds and four shot blocks.
“Kadarating lang niya) nung Saturday. Kita niyo naman ang kundisyon, hingal pa siya, but he’s a big factor on defense,” he added.
Victolero said they were motivated to win a game for Pacquiao.
"Motivation rin namin ang pataasin ang morale ni Coach Manny," he said.
San Miguel, the league’s only remaining pioneer team, became the first PBA bal club to lose back-to-back games to expansion squad KIA. The Beermen also dropped a 78-68 decision to the Carnival during their only meeting in the Commissioner’s Cup.
San Miguel whipped KIA, 90-74 during the Philippine Cup.
Chang, who played for Chinese-Taipei in the 2009 and 2011 Fiba-Asia men’s championships, scored all of his 14 points in the second half, while adding four rebounds and three steals.
Alex Cabagnot led the Beermen with 18 points, while Reid managed to finish with 17 and 10 boards, while battling stomach problem.