Manny Pacquiao's giant-killing KIA side claims another major scalp in Talk 'N Text
KIA playing-coach Manny Pacquiao pulls up for a jumper. Jerome Ascano

KIA Motors leaned on the hot shooting of unheralded guard Hyram Bagatsing and the imposing inside presence of import Peter John Ramos to claim another major victim in Talk ‘N Text, 106-103, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The 30-year-old Bagatsing, who went undrafted in the 2010 PBA rookie draft, went six-of-seven from beyond the three-point arc for the Carnival, who fought back from a 17-point first-half deficit to continue their giant-killing ways in a conference where they've previously brought down Purefoods and San Miguel Beer.

The former De La Salle shooting guard’s sixth and final three-pointer gave KIA the lead for good at 98-96, heading into the last two minutes.

Veteran guard Leo Avenido's three-pointer and a basket inside by Ramos padded KIA's lead to 105-98 with 1:13 left, but the Tropang Texters went on a last-gasp fightback to pull within 103-106 in the endgame.

The Tropang Texters even had a chance to win the game, but Ranidel de Ocampo’s top-of-the-key three-point attempt with three seconds to go missed the mark, allowing the Carnival to run away with their first-ever back-to-back wins in franchise history.

“Ibig sabihin, maganda yung ginagawa ng mga players at sa training ng mga players natin, kaya maganda ang resulta,” said KIA playing coach Manny Pacquiao after a game that saw him go scoreless after playing for six-and-a-half minutes.

Pacquiao's expansion side has now beaten three teams with a combined 39 championships as it moved up to eighth spot with a 3-4 (win-loss) card.

Bagatsing finished with a career-high 21 points while free agent pickup Avenido chipped in 16 for KIA, which made a season high-tying 18 three-pointers as well as a franchise-best 33 assists in the game.

Ramos fell just one assist shy of a triple-double after tallying 24 points, 25 rebounds and nine assists. However, the 7-foot-3 behemoth also had 10 turnovers.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

On the other hand, Talk 'N Text suffered just their second loss in seven games as it fell half a game behind league-leader Meralco (5-1).

Pacquiao, who is set to leave this weekend to begin his training for his much-awaited world title fight against Floyd Mayweather on May 2, said he is not yet sure if he’ll play this Saturday when the Carnival shoot for the franchise’s first three-game winning streak against Blackwater.

KIA whipped Blackwater, 85-69, during the season-opening game last October at the Philippine Arena.

Jayson Castro led Talk ‘N Text with 24 points while import Ivan Johnson added 21 points and 12 rebounds.

The scores:

KIA Motors 106 - Ramos 24, Bagatsing 21, Avenido 16, Pascual 10, Cervantes 10, Buensuceso 10, Revilla 5, Dehesa 5, Cawaling 3, Alvarez 2, Thiele 0, Poligrates 0, Pacquiao 0.
 
Talk N' Text 103 - Castro 24, Johnson 21, Fonacier 13, Rosser 12, Aban 12, De Ocampo 11, Reyes R.J. 6, Alas 4, Carey 0.
 
Quarterscores: 22-33, 50-51, 78-76, 106-103

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava