SUDDENLY, expansion team KIA Motors is being looked up to as role model in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Just ask Barako Bull coach Koy Banal.
Banal has challenged his team to play at a high level the way the Carnivals did in their last two outings after the Energy failed to keep up with Rain or Shine in a 103-91 loss Friday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Barako Bull mentor said the fighting spirit KIA showed in upset victories over powerhouse teams San Miguel, defending champion Purefoods, and Talk ‘N Text is something the Energy can emulate.
“Nandun naman yung effort, but I think we still need to build our character,” said Banal, whose team held its opponents to just 82.3 points prior to Friday’s loss against the Elasto Painters.
“That’s the challenge. Trying to convince them on keeping up with the big goys, so I was telling them about KIA.”
So disappointed was Banal with the way Barako Bull played without energy that he sued for a timeout with 3.3 seconds remaining and Rain or Shine comfortably ahead, 103-89.
He was seen on television berating wingman JC Intal for allowing gunner Jeff Chan to score easily.
“Iyun ang sinasabi ko sa kanila (Energy), na kahit tambak kami, I will keep coaching them. I just wanted to tell them we want to start strong and finish strong no matter what, at yun din ang sinabi ko kay JC,” Banal said.
The Barako Bull coach noted the Carnival’s three victories over the three elite teams only emphasized the character of playing-coach Manny Pacquiao’s rookie team.
“They (Carnival) beat the big boys. They were able to play at a very high level against Talk ‘N Text, Purefoods and San Miguel,” said Banal, who won championships with Far Eastern University in the UAAP and San Beda in the NCAA.
“So that’s (win over elite teams) our target. Maybe not tonight, but hopefully, we could get some more wins down the stretch with four games to go,” he added.
Currently, Barako Bull is tied at third to sixth spots with Purefoods, Globalport, and Barangay Ginebra at 4-3. Banal is hoping for at least a split of their last four games to hopefully make it to the top six in the playoffs.
“Basta makadawala kami, at yung middle of the pack ang gusto namin,” he said.
The top two teams at the end of the single-round eliminations will earn a twice-to-beat edge against teams seeded in seventh and eighth spots
On the other hand, the third to sixth seeds will play in a best-of-three series in the quarterfinals.
The last four teams after the eliminations will drop out of the playoffs.