BARAKO Bull and KIA Motors both registered the biggest upsets so far in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
But Energy coach Koy Banal is keeping his fingers crossed his team would not be at the end of yet another stunning loss when it goes up against the Carnival Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 3 p.m. encounter may finally see playing-coach Manny Pacquiao calling the shots for KIA, which is coming off a king-sized 88-78 beating of reigning Philippine Cup champion San Miguel.
Barako Bull meanwhile, stunned fancied Barangay Ginebra the last time, 69-68, to keep its unblemished record (2-0) going.
“Pareho naman kaming malaking isda ang nahuli sa last game namin, but come Sunday, dalawang bagay lang ang puwedeng mangyari sa amin. We use that (win over Ginebra) as a springboard, or we lose focus,” Banal stressed.
“But I hope we can sustain our momentum when we play KIA.”
The Carnival improved to 1-2 following the win over San Miguel which saw them pulled off the upset despite the absence of 7-foot-3 import Peter John Ramos, who fouled out with still five minutes left in the game.
“We know KIA is a very dangerous team, so kami, we just have to be prepared for whatever will happen on Sunday though we really have to find ways to contain (KIA import) PJ Ramos because he’s very dominating inside,” explained Banal, whose Energy is only one of three remaining unbeaten squads in the tournament.
The Puerto Rican import leads the Carnival in four major statistical departments through the first three games, averaging a league-best 37.5 points and 20.5 rebounds, along with 3.5 assists and 2.0 blocks.
Meantime, KIA lead assistant coach Chito Victolero said registering the franchise’s first-ever back-to-back win will only be possible if the locals will step up once more the way they did against the Beermen.
Victolero cited the contributions of point guard LA Revilla, along with free-agent pick-ups JR Cawaling, Mark Yee, and Leo Avenido as the biggest reasons why they finally snap the franchise’s 12-game losing streak dating back to the Philippine Cup.
“Everybody stepped up, like yung veterans na gaya ni Leo, JR Cawaling, Mark Yee, then LA Revilla din, so sana ma-sustain namin,” said Victolero, whose team will try to move to an even 2-2 record with another win.
Interestingly, both teams figured in a near fistfight last month in a tune-up match that referees eventually stopped due to excessive physicality.
The Carnival led, 74-59, when game officials decided to call off the game after Energy big man Dorian Pena got off the bench and engaged in a verbal tussle KIA guard David Webb.