ANTIPOLO CITY – Defending champion Purefoods Star woke up in the nick of time to survive a scare from Manny Pacquiao's inspired KIA Motors side, 88-77, on Wednesday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center.
Joe Devance and Mark Barroca combined in a decisive 14-0 run in the final quarter to spare Purefoods blushes in a game which saw KIA lead by as much as nine points in the third quarter and take a six-point lead to the final canto.
The 6-7 Devance actually scored nine points during that critical stretch, while Barroca provided the defensive hustle in a fightback that had KIA tumbling to its eighth straight loss after an opening-day victory.
Purefoods Star coach Tim Cone later recognized the "inspiration” Pacquiao brought to the team in his first game back since a successful title defense against Chris Algieri in Macau on Sunday.
“Certainly (KIA’s) inspired tonight. KIA played an inspired game, their defense was outstanding through three quarters,” said Cone, admitting he looked forward to shaking Pacquiao’s hands after the game.
“But the most important thing for me is being able to shake coach Manny’s hands tonight. Honestly, I was thrilled, though, it was tough to meet their (Sorento) intensity and inspiration,” added the Hotshots coach.
Pacquiao dressed for the game and was honored by the league in pre-game ceremonies for his victory over Algieri and even joined the team in the pre-game warm-ups.
But the 35-year-old rookie and playing coach chose to watch the game on the bench and occasionally help out deputy coach Glen Capacio during timeouts.
Mired in 11th place with a 1-8 record, the Sorento will need to sweep their last two games and hope that Barako Bull Energy or the NLEX Road Warriors don’t get more than three victories to have any hope of reaching the playoffs.
Devance banged in a game-high 16 points to lead the Hotshots, who have now won their third successive game to move up to joint fourth spot with Barangay Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text with their 5-3 record.
Barroca added 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Alex Mallari and James Yap scored 12 points apiece.
Reil Cervantes led KIA with 14 points, LA Revilla added 12 while Karl Dehesa chipped in 11 and six boards.
Purefoods 88 - Devance 16, Barroca 15, Mallari 12, Yap 12, Pingris 9, Maliksi 9, Simon 6, Taha 5, Reavis 4, Melton 0, Gaco 0, Matias 0, Allado 0, Holstein 0.
KIA 77 - Cervantes 14, Revilla 12, Dehesa 11, Alvarez 10, Custodio 10, Pascual 8, Raymundo 6, Webb 4, Burtscher 2, Saldua 0, Buensuceso 0, Pacquiao 0, Ighalo 0, Sanga 0.
Quarterscores: 17-17, 34-34, 51-57, 88-77