BOOTED out of the playoffs in the PBA Philippine Cup, expansion team KIA Motors is looking to close out its campaign instead with a win as it collides with NLEX in the penultimate play date of the season-opening conference on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Sorento lost their ninth straight game Wednesday at the expense of Meralco, 99-93, formally dashing their bid to make the next round.
But lead assistant coach Glen Capacio said things look very different whenever playing coach Manny Pacquiao is with him on the sidelines just like during the team’s game against the Bolts where they managed to rally back from as much as a 22-point deficit and moved on the verge of winning it all.
“Iba talaga kung nasa bench si coach Manny. Siyempre, namo-motivate niya ang mga players dahil kita naman nila kung paano siya mag-trabaho,” said Capacio heading to KIA’s 3 p.m. match versus the Road Warriors (3-7).
KIA’s lone victory came on opening day, an 80-66 come-from-behind win against fellow expansion team Blackwater in Bulacan.
Pacquiao won’t be playing against Asi Taulava and the Road Warriors, but will be coaching at the sidelines along with Capacio, hopeful his inspiring presence could steer the Sorento to a conference-ending victory.
In the meantime, regardless of the outcome, the Road Warriors will be entering the playoffs as the 10th seeded team, though coach Boyet Fernandez would want NLEX to end its elimination round campaign with a win.
NLEX has lost its last three matches beginning with Rain or Shine (93-95), Alaska (84-90), and Barako Bull (87-92).
The Road Warriors will have to win twice against a still to be determined opponent when the playoffs begin next week.