Fans were stunned when the Kia Carnival brought down the newly-crowned Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen last week.
On Ash Wednesday, Manny Pacquiao and the Carnival wielded the upset axe anew and claimed another champion as their latest victim – the reigning grand slam champions Purefoods Star Hotshots.
By beating these crack teams, the eight division world champion has every reason to feel upbeat about the expansion team’s chances of making the playoffs.
“Sa palagay ko may chance pa naman kami (sa playoffs). Kailangan pa sigurong patindihin yung training naming, yung mga plays na gagawin. Sa tingin ko nagkakaroon na ng kumpiyansa yung mga players ko,” said Pacquiao, the playing coach of the Carnival, who also cherished the moment of scoring his first point in PBA history.
Pacquiao played briefly, inserting himself in the second period and playing for four and a half minutes. He got an opportunity to score when he breezed past two defenders – Joe Devance and Allein Maliksi – and got fouled by the former University of Santo Tomas stalwart while driving to the basket.
His basket off his second free throw drew cheers from the crowd and from there, the Carnival’s spirit was lifted to a higher level.
Pacquiao didn’t return in the game, but his leadership on the sidelines brought the best out of his players – from the biggest man in the line up, 7-foot-3 PJ Ramos to the smallest guy on the court, 5-foot-7 LA Revilla, who both played splendid games in handing the Carnival their second win in six games for solo ninth place.
Ramos scored 32 points and grabbed 26 rebounds.
Revilla, on the other hand, stood big in the endgame. He finished with 18 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.
“Maganda yung ipinakita ng mga players natin. Maganda yung execution ng plays na ginawa namin sa practice, nagawa namin dito,” Pacquiao said.
“Mahalaga sa amin kasi yung mga tinalo namin mga champion teams. Siguro bunga ito ng sakripisyo na ginawa nga mga players sa training, na-develop na yung shooting nila,” added Pacquiao.
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