There was no assurance for Kia if they would make it to the PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs until the final elimination round game, but it did not bother the Carnival from leaving everything on the floor against the Meralco Bolts on Wednesday.
Playing with the same amount of tenacity on both ends of the floor, the Carnival survived, 88-85 although the door officially closed when Barangay Ginebra defeated the NLEX Road Warriors later, 110-107.
Manny Pacquiao trooped to the venue to personally see his wards strut their stuff, and he was not disappointed with the result.
The maiden season for the Carnival was met with criticism and doubt, but the rising-above-adversity storyline Pacquiao is known for seemed to have rubbed off among his players as Kia led a bunch of “nobodies” to a level that exceeded expectation.
“Ang masasabi ko lang is masaya ako sa performance ng mga players. Masipag sila sa ensayo at nagagawa nilang sundin ang mga pinapagawa namin sa kanila,” Pacquiao said. “Lahat ng sakripisyo sa practice, nagagawa sa laro kaya maganda ang resulta.”
The Carnival finished with a 5-6 record in the Governors’ Cup, a slight improvement from their campaigns in the previous two conference although for the multi-titled world boxing champ, it’s the experience that matters.
“Maraming natutunan at dagdag experience ito for the players na madadala nila for the next season. Maganda ang disiplina [ng team] and every game nag-iimprove ang laro ng players,” Pacquiao added.
Heading into the next season, with Kia looking to surprise observers yet again, Pacquiao says they just have to execute and improve on the littlr aspects of the game.
“I-perfect na lang siguro ang mga plays at improve pa ang defense,” he said.
In it’s maiden season, the team established a reputation as the league’s gritty squad that simply cannot be pushed around. It’s about sacrificing to get recognized for the Carnival.