LOWLY KIA Motors pulled off the biggest upset of the PBA season on Wednesday, sending newly crowned Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer crashing back to earth with a famous 78-68 win before a stunned crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
LA Revilla set the tone for the much-maligned Carnival, who opened a big lead early against a lackluster Beermen side before enduring the disqualification on fouls of giant import Peter John Ramos to complete the franchise's first win in the pro league in three-and-a-half months.
Making the win more remarkable was that it was completed without the 7-foot-2 Ramos, who scored just four points the entire second half before fouling out with still four minutes and 37 seconds remaining.
The Beermen managed to slash the Carnival’s 16-point lead to two, 69-71, in the endgame but the expansion side simply refused to fold, getting significant contributions from rookie Kyle Pascual and offseason free-agent pick-ups Leo Avenido, JR Cawaling, and Mark Yee.
“Hinahanap-hanp namin yung veteran guard na kagaya ni Leo (Avenido). Kasi kaya niya ayusin yung laro namin during crunch time,” said KIA lead assistant coach Chito Victolero, who called the shots in lieu of playing coach Manny Pacquiao who is still in the US.
Victolero said Pacquiao called during the halftime break to encourage the players, while reminding them to sustain the aggressive plays they displayed during the first half.
“Nung halftime, tumawag siya (Pacquiao) at ni-remind lang niya to continue to play defense and the need to work hard pa. Kasi kailangan naming i-sustain yung energy and aggressiveness namin sa second half,” he added.
Revilla had 12 points, six assists and five rebounds as he bagged Player of the Game honors. He also won the same award in the Carnival's only other win in franchise history - an 80-69 victory over fellow expansion squad Blackwater last October 19 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
Ramos had 22 points and eight rebounds for KIA, his lowest output this conference after averaging 37.5 points and 20.5 rebounds in his first two games.
However, KIA drew big games from Cawaling (10 points), Yee (11 points) and Avenido, a journeyman coming off a stint in the ABL who finished with nine points and two boards.
The Beermen drew 18 points each from Fajardo and import Ronald Roberts, who also had 22 boards.