Kia sets out to prove doubters wrong, settles for a 'moral victory' in game vs NLEX
"If we can do this against NLEX, we can do this against anybody,” says Chris Gavina. Dante Peralta

KIA coach Chris Gavina came out of the dugout after his team’s 119-115 loss to NLEX on Wednesday night wearing a gray shirt with the words 'PROVE THEM WRONG' printed infront.

It was no coincidence considering how the team has been ridiculed after giving up this year’s No. 1 overall pick that turned out to be Christian Standhardinger for three bench players and a future pick.  

“I wore this for a reason today,” Gavina said. “I told everybody, 'Prove everybody wrong today.' I told them you have no idea how many people have doubted us.

“And I gave everybody this baller early in our season that says, 'Nothing's impossible with God' and that's the mindset going in,” he added, showing the blue baller on his wrist. “If we put in the work, hopefully our next game we come out on top.”

The Picanto, who went winless in the last Governors’ Cup, may not have proven anyone wrong yet, but they’ve already proven something after flashing their offensive potential early on and keeping in step with the Road Warriors all-game long.

“As a coach, you kind of hate to say ‘moral victory’ but considering what happened to us last conference ... we showed our grit tonight, we showed a great deal of character in being able to keep up with what I feel is one of the contenders coming into this conference,” Gavina said.

“So if we can do this against NLEX, we can do this against anybody,” he added.

The Picanto showed what they're capable of offensively by scoring 40 points in the first quarter that allowed them to establish a 13-point lead in the second quarter.

“For us to control the time with the lead – I think something about thirty-two minutes – goes to show that we’re more than capable of keeping up with a high-scoring team like that,” Gavina said. “But that’s not our pace. I told our guys that, ‘Yes, we’re hitting, but that’s not the way we want to play.’ We want to keep teams in the eighties and for me, that’s the only way we’re going to win.”

Forced to a high-scoring game, the Picanto lacked the finishing kick against the Road Warriors to make a loud opening statement to the rest of the league.

Gavina knows exactly what they need to do.

“Our effort level and our focus have to increase,” Gavina said. “We can't have any letdowns just because of this close game. Bottomline is we didn't win and we got to be able to be lot hungrier next game against Phoenix.”


Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos