IT was a game KIA Picanto wanted to win so badly, not only to stay alive in the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs race but to somehow ease the pain of its grieving leader.
Too bad, the motivation – no matter how great - wasn’t enough to get the team over the hump.
The Picanto suffered yet another loss, 95-76, as Blackwater slammed the quarterfinals door on its former fellow expansion franchise on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The team fell to a 1-8 record to kiss goodbye its playoff bid, less than 24 hours after the wife of team manager coach Joe Lipa, Maria Luisa Artadi-Lipa, died due to a lingering illness.
“Of course we wanted to dedicate the win to Tita Ging, but it didn’t happen,” said a forlorn Kia coach Ricky Dandan after the setback.
Assistant team manager Doc Iby Bautista said Lipa, the former national coach, is fine as he appeared to have already accepted the fate of his wife, who, for a long time sought medical treatment in the U.S.
"May hinihintay na lang na anak niya (from the U.S.) bago i-ayos yung burol."
Dandan, the longtime Lipa protégée, lamented how the Picanto conceded the game in the second half after keeping it close in the first two quarters.
“I told them they just gave up. Wala namang iba, yun lang ang rason doon,” he said.
The KIA coach was expecting the Picanto would give the Elite a good fight even though they only have a slim chance of entering the playoffs.
But to his disappointment, the team failed to play with heart.
“Even if we’re out of the playoffs, we talked about ending this conference on a good note,” said Dandan. “We were in there, but somehow we gave up.”
The Picanto will have Globalport and defending champion San Miguel for their final two assignments after which, according to Dandan, the coaching staff will have to assess the team with management.
“We’ll sit down with management after this conference and talk about what to do (for the next conference),” he said. “Tapusin lang muna natin ito.”