Playing coach Manny Pacquiao proud to see KIA turn into an unlikely giant-killer
KIA playing-coach Manny Pacquiao is all smiles in the press room after the expansion team claimed the scalp of defending champion Purefoods Star. Jerome Ascano

WITH his mega-buck fight against Floyd Mayweather still up in the air, KIA playing-coach Manny Pacquiao said he intends to join the Carnival as often as he can as the team makes a big push for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.

“Habang di pa ako nag-start ng training and conditioning ko, puwede pa ako maglaro saka mag-focus sa team,” Pacquiao, in a good mood during the post-game talk with media shortly after KIA's king-sized 95-84 win over defending champion Purefoods on Wednesday night.

The 5-foot-6 Pacquiao played his first game in the midseason conference, scoring the first point of his PBA career to go with one assist in less than five minutes of action.

The Carnival then rode on the heroic endgame performances of playmaker LA Revilla and 7-foot-3 import Peter John Ramos to register their second win in five starts in the midseason, import-laced conference - and just the third since joining the league as an expansion franchise.

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While KIA remains out of the Top 8 with six games left on its single-round eliminations schedule, Pacquiao said he is confident the Carnival can make a run at a first-ever playoff appearance.

“May chance pa naman siguro (to make the Top 8), kailangan lang patindihin pa yung training namin saka plays na gagawin,” noted the 36-year-old Pacquiao.

The world boxing icon said beating the defending champion Hotshots and newly-minted Philippine Cup titlist San Miguel Beer more than a week ago is a big boost to the Carnival's confidence.

“Nagkaka-kumpyansa na ang mga players ko saka napakahalaga 'yung panalo, kasi yung mga tinalo namin, champion team (referring to San Miguel),” he said.

“Malaking team din itong (PUrefoods Star) tinalo namin.”

KIA takes a weeklong break before returning to action next Wednesday when it battles Talk ‘N Text.


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