Kobe Paras put on a show in his Japan B. League debut but it proved not enough to lift Niigata Albirex BB past Kyoto Hannaryz as they lost 81-85 on Saturday (2 October) at the City Hall Plaza Aore Nagaoka.
The 6-foot-6 Filipino star showcased his scoring brilliance with 25 points built on four three-pointers while keeping his teammates engaged with four assists. He also made his presence felt on defence with two steals in his first outing in the professional circuit.
Paras even poured out 20 of his total point production in the first half where Niigata seized control and wrested a 50-41 lead at halftime.
However, Albirex BB coughed out crucial errors down the stretch, allowing Hannaryz to snatch momentum and emerge victorious.
David Simon, who once served as an import for TNT in the 2016 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner's Cup, anchored Kyoto with 28 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
He also tallied two blocks, the last of which came late in the fourth quarter where he denied Rosco Allen's attempt to help seal the win for his side.
Kyoto also strung a strong performance from another former PBA reinforcement in Justin Harper, who suited up for Global Port in the 2017 Commissioner's Cup.
Harper finished with 21 points and five rebounds, including the game-clinching freethrow attempt in the waning moments of the match.
Aside from Paras, Allen was the lone scorer who breached double-figures wirh 19 points. He also supplemented 15 rebounds and three assists in a double-double performance that went down the drain.
Paras and Niigata will try to bounce back from their season-opening loss when they take on Kyoto once again on Sunday (3 October).
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.