IT’S not exactly the most ideal PBA coaching debut.
But Ricky Dandan took the punch like a man and endured this latest in a series of KIA losses.
The new Picanto mentor watched his team disintegrate in the second half and absorb a 124-77 rout at the hands of Magnolia on Wednesday night to mark his coaching debut in the Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Everything appeared to be going right for the Picanto in the first two quarters when they managed to hold their own against the Hotshots and even lead at the half, 49-47.
Unfortunately, they came undone in the second half, allowing the Hotshots to finally take control and win the game pulling away.
The Picanto have now lost their first outings in the all-Filipino conference, extending their losing streak dating back to last season to 15th overall - the longest in the league in the last decade as per PBA head statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
“I feel that I’ve been coaching here forever,” said Dandan, who took over the coaching post following the resignation of Chris Gavina two days before the New Year.
“It’s tiring. I feel very tired,” he added. “I tried to encourage our guys to make a comeback, try to use the lineup, but obviously, to no avail.”
Dandan himself was trying to find an answer on what exactly happened following that big second-half turnaround, which saw the Picanto score just 28 points.
“I don’t know what happened. I can’t explain it,” said the former University of the Philippines coach. “I have to review the tape, watch the third quarter, and see what exactly happened. From my recollection, we played according to plan in the first two quarters, only to suddenly play differently in the third.”
If there’s any consolation for the team, Dandan said the Picanto played very well in the first half.
“The first two quarters,” he pointed out. “If we can replicate that…we knew that Magnolia is a veteran team, we knew that they will make a move in the third quarter.
“But we were unable to stop their run, so I’m going to see the tape. I want to confirm things, thinking about what happened so we can do better in the next game.”
That next game will be four days from now as KIA faces Alaska on Sunday.
“We have to move on, shrug this off, and prepare against Alaska this Sunday,” Dandan said.