KIA Sorento shocked fellow newcomer Blackwater Elite with an 80-66 victory on Sunday in the record-breaking opening of the 40th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup at the newly built Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The 52,612 fans, who came to watch the first day action at the 55,000-seater Arena, was the first in the professional league since its inception in 1975, according to PBA officials.
Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, the playing coach for Kia Kamao saw action for six minutes and 46 seconds. He started for the team along with Reil Cervantes, Rich Alvarez, Joshua Webb and Virgil Buensuceso but failed to make it to the scoring board.
As a certified professional cage player, he displayed strong presence with his hustling that often led to Richie Alvarez and Cervantes scoring, preventing Blackwater from breaking away.
“In the first and second quarter medyo sabog ‘yung laro namin. So, I told them at the dugout to focus on the game and not to think of the big crowd. I’m so happy that we won, I hope tuloy-tuloy ang panalo,” said Pacquiao.
He said that it’s certain that he will not play in their next game against Ginebra on Oct. 25 in Lucena City because of his rigid training for his coming fight against American Chris Algeiri in Macau on Nov. 23.
“Maybe after the fight in Macau, I will play already,” added Pacquiao.
Even as it was assistant coach Glenn Capacio calling the shots for Kamao but his presence was enough to trigger a big run that moved Kia Kamao on top by 15 points, 66-51, early in the fourth quarter from 12-21 deficit in the first canto.
Former Green Archer LA Revilla struck hard in the final half with 18 points to put Kia to wide distance, 63-51, less than a minute remaining in the third period. Revilla led Kia with 23 points, Hans Thiele and Reil Cervantes finished with 13 points each and 11 from Rudy Lingganay.
Juan Miguel Tiongson and John Paul Erram paced Blackwater with 10 points apiece while six each from Bryan Faundo, Alex Nuyles, Rogemar Menor, JR Cawaling and Sunday Salvacion.