P. LEAGUE+ & T1 LEAGUE/Filipino star 'KG' Canaleta makes Taiwan, T1 LEAGUE debut

05/01/2022 09:28 PM
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Nino "KG" Canaleta (left). Photo courtesy of the T1 LEAGUE
Nino "KG" Canaleta (left). Photo courtesy of the T1 LEAGUE

Taipei, May 1 (CNA) Filipino Nino "KG" Canaleta hit the hardwood for the first time for a Taiwanese team Sunday, and while his Taichung Wagor Suns lost, his head coach praised him as an "amazing teammate" after his debut.

A 16-year Philippine Basketball Association veteran, Canaleta had 12 points and three rebounds in 15 minutes of floor time for the Suns, who fell 110-106 on the road to the New Taipei CTBC DEA at Xinzhuang Gymnasium in a tightly contested T1 LEAGUE game.

Canaleta made his first shot, a post-up fadeaway jumper over the outstretched hands of DEA shooting guard Lin Ping-shen (林秉聖) with just under five minutes left in the first half, and never looked back.

The 1.98-meter Canaleta, nicknamed "KG" for his resemblance to his "No. 1 idol" American NBA star Kevin Garnett, ended up making five of six shots from the floor, including 2-3 from beyond the arc, showing the difference he could make for the Suns as the playoffs approach.

Canaleta later admitted to having some nerves in his first game in a league outside of the Philippines.

"When I knew that I was going to play today, I was excited and when I hit my first basket, the nervousness was gone," Canaleta said.

Nino "KG" Canaleta. Photo courtesy of the Taichung Wagor Suns
Nino "KG" Canaleta. Photo courtesy of the Taichung Wagor Suns

Speaking on the Taiwanese style of play, he said the pace was fast and the game was physical.

Suns head coach Iurgi Caminos said Canaleta played well and got into a rhythm after touching the ball a few times on the court.

"He showed how good of a shooter he is. He's a smart player with a lot of experience," Caminos said. "From the first day he came to this team, he has been helping us with the biggest smile on his face, being an amazing teammate."

The lost did not affect the Suns' playoff positioning, having already secured second place in the six-team T1 League to earn the second seed in the playoffs.

The DEA, meanwhile, appear set to finish third after widening their lead over the TaiwanBeer HeroBears with back-to-back home wins over the Tainan TSG GhostHawks on Saturday and the Suns Sunday.

In collecting their third consecutive win by beating the Suns, the DEA improved their record to 17-12 and were again led by Filipino-American point guard Avery Scharer, who had 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists.

The game was not decided until the final minute, when the DEA broke a 104-104 tie with two straight baskets, only to see the Suns pull to within 108-106 on a lay-up by center Aaron Geramipoor.

Sharer was fouled but only made one of two free throws, leaving the Suns with a chance to tie. They could not cash in, however, with guard Anthony Tucker missing a three-pointer from deep, and Scharer grabbed the rebound and put the game away with another free throw.

Aquas continue to reign

Also in the T1 LEAGUE Sunday, the regular season champions the Kaohsiung Aquas defeated the Taoyuan Leopards 137-117 at Chung Yuan Christian University gymnasium.

The outcome of the game had no bearing on the standings, as the Aquas had already secured the top spot in the league, while the Leopards were in fifth place with a 6-21 record.

Leopards forward Troy Williams was outstanding in his team's losing effort with 44 points and 14 rebounds, while Aquas forward Ferrakohn Hall answered with 33 points and 10 rebounds.

Lioneers climb to top of standings

In Taiwan's other professional basketball league P. LEAGUE+ on Sunday, the Hsinchu Jko Lioneers took down the Taoyuan Pilots 94-86 to climb into a tie at the top of the six-team league, while the Pilots were at the bottom with a 7-20 record.

Lioneers forward Nick Faust led all scorers with 31 points and 16 rebounds, while teammate Sim Bhullar added 29 points and 16 rebounds in the game played at Taoyuan Arena.

Steelers stun Dreamers

Also on Sunday, the improving Kaohsiung Steelers stunned the Formosa Taishin Dreamers 120-103 at Kaohsiung Fengshan Stadium, snapping the Dreamers' five-game winning streak.

The Steelers have made a late season run but are in fifth place with a 9-19 record and will not make the playoffs, while the Dreamers dropped into a tie for second with the Taipei Fubon Braves at 16-10.

Steelers forward Anthony Bennett starred for the home team with 35 points and 13 rebounds, while Dreamers forward Douglas Creighton led his team with 25 points and four rebounds.

(By William Yen)

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