Expansion team Kia Carnival is ready to put behind them the old image of the PBA’s perennial whipping boys.
Two huge wins over champion squads San Miguel Beer and Purefoods Star Hotshots are proof enough that the team has gone a long way.
“Ibang-iba na yung Kia ngayon,” said LA Tenorio, point guard of the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. “Hindi na ito yung dating Kia na madaling talunin ng mga teams. Atsaka nagdagdag sila ng mga players na katulad nina Mark Yee and Leo Avenido”
Yee and Avenido brought their veteran smarts to a young Carnival squad that needs to toughen up and making the team tougher was what these two players did. The two journeymen have been providing the intangibles and setting up young guys like LA Revilla and Eloy Poligrates to shine offensively.
Kia also figured out the best way to score is to keep the big man happy – 7-foot-3 import PJ Ramos, who averaged 27 points and 17 rebounds in the two games the Carnival won.
“Wala kaming magawa kay Ramos. Ang labanan parang four against five dahil pagtanggap double agad so mahirap,” added Marc Pingris, Purefoods’ premier forward. “Hindi namin kaya maglaro ng all-Filipino dahil yung iba malalaki talagang import. Kapag yung import 6’4 lang or 6’5 kaya namin yan, pero iba tong 7’4 parang bine-baby lang yung laro.”
With Ramos asserting his dominance, Kia has become a formidable squad, according to Pingris.
“Hindi mo kasi pwedeng ismolin itong Kia. Tinalo nila San Miguel and then may malaki silang import talaga. Talagang nahirapan din kami,” he added.