Kobe Paras and the Niigata Albirex BB clinched their first win in the 2021/22 Japan B. League season, after pulling off a 76-75 escape act over Kyoto Hannaryz at the City Hall Plaza Aore Nagaoka on Sunday (3 October).
The Filipino star, who erupted for 25 points in the season-opening loss to Kyoto on Saturday, struggled to find his prolific form as he ended the night with 10 points and two rebounds.
Still, Paras made his presence felt at the critical junctures of the match, delivering two crucial baskets that tipped the scales to Niigata's favor.
The first came at the three-minute mark of the fourth period, when he drove hard to the rim before eluding the defender with a pirouette to put up a one-handed shot that pulled Niigata to within a single possession, 70-73.
The 6-foot-6 stalwart then connected on another slashing drive to the basket, bringing Albirex back to within three at 72-75 after David Simon had pushed Kyoto's lead to five.
From that point onwards, Tshilidzi Nephawe and Yuto Nohmi carried the scoring load down the stretch as the former trimmed the deficit down to one at 74-75 while the latter drained the game-winning shot to complete the thrilling win.
Nohmi finished with 16 points while Rosco Allen put up 16 of his own for Niigata, which also strung solid contributions from Zen Endo and Jeff Ayres, both of whom supplied 10 points apiece.
On the other hand, Simon posted a game-high 21 points on top of eight rebounds and five assists that went down the drain as Kyoto could not repeat the win over Niigata.
Paras will next face Thirdy Ravena when Albirex BB collides with San-En NeoPhoenix on Saturday (9 October).
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.