ITS main source of inspiration was present on this night. Unfortunately, KIA Motors just couldn’t pull this one off against Barangay Ginebra.
Despite boxing great and playing-coach Manny Pacquiao’s presence on the bench, the Carnival came up short against the Kings, 105-98, to suffer their first loss in the PBA Governors Cup at the Astrodome on Wednesday.
For upcoming stars Alex Nuyles and Karl Dehesa though, just having their charismatic leader around was more than a huge factor for an expansion ballclub to keep a powerhouse team such as Ginebra on its toes for most part of the game.
“Iba yung pakiramdam kapag nandun siya (Pacquiao). Mas lalo kaming namo-motivate, Yung parang kahit Ginebra yan, tatalunin namin sila,” admitted Nuyles, one of the team’s two new key additions following a brief stint with Blackwater earlier in the season.
Selected ninth overall by Rain or Shine during the 2013 Draft, Nuyles added Pacquiao had to share his wealth of experience as a boxer just to be able to stress his point during the team’s pep talk at the half.
“Marunong siya eh. Kung offense, sinasabi niya, pupunta tayo sa import natin, pero kung wala, sa shooters. Saka sa experience niya, sinasabi niya lahat para ma-lift up kami,” said the native of Camalig, Albay.
Understandably, Nuyles said the Carnival were the overwhelming underdogs against the league’s most popular squad, although the 36-year-old Pacquiao kept reminding them to fight fearlessly.
“Yung lakas ng loob na kahit sinong kalaban, yun sinasabi niya. Saka isipin na lang namin na kami ang mas malakas,” he added.
For Dehesa, just seeing Pacquiao on the bench, or listening to him as he encourages the team was enough energy booster for the expansion franchise.
“Huge man, whenever he’s around, we feel his energy,” said Dehesa, who scored a league career-high 19 points in the loss against the Kings.
“We always want to perform for him. He’s an icon. You want to be able to live up to his standards or play up to his standards.”
In all, Kia carries a 3-4 record when Pacquiao watches or calls the shot for the team, while only has a 3-14 mark overall whenever the celebrated playing-coach is not around.