Pacquiao ‘disappointed’ with win-loss record, but KIA to endure process
MANILA, Philippines – The ultimate winner wants nothing less from his new endeavor.
Playing coach Manny Pacquiao is said to be “disappointed” with KIA Sorento’s win-loss record in its first ever PBA Philippine Cup conference. The expansion team won only a single game, its debut on opening day, and spiraled down a 10-game losing slide to end their conference outside of the playoff picture.
“Siyempre disappointed yun kasi alam naman natin si Manny (Pacquiao) is a winner,” assistant coach Glenn Capacio said when asked if whether or not KIA’s finish fit the first-time pro coach’s expectations. “Ayaw niya ng talunan na team.” (Of course he’s disappointed. We all know Manny is a winner. He does not want a losing team.)
KIA’s lone win was against its fellow expansion team Blackwater Elite last October 19. Since then, they’ve put up meager fights – while causing scares on occasion – versus the rest of the league and never got over the hump.
A known winner in boxing who had his own challenging journey before the accolades, Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 knockouts), according to Capacio, understands the long uphill process KIA must go through in order to be truly competitive.
“At the back of his mind naiintindihan naman niya yung katayuan namin na talagang kulang sa players,” Capacio relayed. “Ine-explain naman namin sa kanya na kailangan pa natin kumuha ng quality players para makapag-compete.” (At the back of his mind he understands our situation that we really lack players. We explain to him that we still need to get quality players in order to compete.)
Pacquiao was named head coach of KIA last June and selected himself during the annual rookie draft to officially make him a playing coach. But his boxing commitments, among others, have hindered him from coaching full time, leaving Capacio to handle the team.
Capacio assessed that KIA, whose entire roster was formed via the expansion draft, rookie draft and through free agency, is 3 to 4 players short of being at par with other teams.
“Happy ako dahil maganda yung tinatakbo ng team. They're playing together defensively and offensively. Kaso kulang lang talaga. Kulang sa materyales,” he stressed. “We're 3 to 4 players away to compete here in the PBA, I think.” (I’m happy because the team is doing well.They’re playing together defensively and offensively. But we’re still short. We lack the materials.)
Specifically, Capacio said, the Sorento needs a playmaker that can double as an offensive threat and can defend well – someone like Globalport’s Alex Cabagnot, he said.
“Kung meron siguro kaming parang Cabagnot, makakapag-compete kami,” Capacio said. (If we probably have someone like Cabagnot we can compete.)
An explosive big man is also what they’re searching for. One who can do damage around the rim and raise the team’s ceiling. Right now, their tallest guys are Kyle Pascual and Mike Burtscher who both stand at 6-foot-6.
For the Philippine Cup, forward Reil Cervantes was the team’s top scorer with an average of about 17 points a game. The former Far Eastern University standout, whom Capacio handled during his time as the Tamaraws’ coach, also leads the team in rebounding with 5.3 each game.
While guard LA Revilla out of De La Salle University also shared the load with nearly 10 points a contest on top of a 3.2 average in assists.
Revilla, a heady court general who helped the Green Archers to a UAAP men’s basketball crown in 2013, can fit the mold Capacio describes for his desired point guard. However, in just his second year in the PBA and after barely seeing any action in his rookie year, Revilla lacks the experience to match a guy like Cabagnot.
Another guard, the shifty Eliud Poligrates, who was sent to KIA in a one-on-one trade with NLEX for Rudy Lingganay in late November, emerged with the most assists with 3.5 a game in just a short time with the Sorento – two games to be exact.
Capacio put emphasis on the fact that KIA has no choice but to take time in order to build a competitive unit, considering they don’t have tradeable assets except for their draft picks, which they don’t want to give up considering the talent coming in next year.
“Limited (options) nga lang kasi alam ko naman yung magagaling nasa kabilang teams so hindi na namin siguro makukuha yun. Siyempre hihingi ng kapalit, draft pick. Ayaw namin i-sacrifice yung draft pick namin next year kasi talented ang mga papasok.”
(Our options are limited because all the good players are on other teams, so we won’t get them. Naturally they’ll ask for something in return, a draft pick. But we don’t want to sacrifice our draft pick next year because talented players are coming in.)
If KIA ends up being one of the two lowest ranked teams at the end of the season, then they will have a shot at either the first or second overall pick of the 2015 draft through the lottery. KIA will have a chance to pick potential heavyweight draftees like Moala Tautaa, Chris Newsome, Rayray Parks, and Troy Rosario.
Capacio’s other option is to sign free agents.
“Sa free agents naman siguro yung ibang teams hindi ibibigay sa amin yung quality players so doon lang kami talaga kukuha sa mga free agents na hindi na-sign up.” (Among the free agents from other teams they likely won’t give us the quality players so we have to get free agents who aren’t signed up.)
Essentially this means KIA will endure piles and piles of losses in the months to come.
For comparison, Globalport is now only just beginning to form a contending team since joining in 2012. They landed the jackpot when they selected Fil-Am Stanley Pringle first overall in this year’s draft. They also beefed up their roster with the acquisition of former Red Lion Anthony Semerad.
‘It’s a process’
But KIA does not want to wait that long before making any moves. In the upcoming mid-season Commissioner’s Cup, the Sorento are eyeing Iranian big man Hamed Haddadi as their import.
Capacio confirmed the team had already sent an e-mail to Haddadi’s agent though they know salary will be a huge consideration with the NBA veteran. The team plans to maximize the unlimited height granted to them by virtue of being one of the bottom 4 teams in the Philippine Cup.
Despite a potential 7-foot reinforcement filling in KIA’s gaps, Capacio is calling for patience from the management as they go through the expected motions of a new team.
“Mahirap talaga. It's a process here in KIA. Sana may patience yung management sa amin kasi there's no shortcut here in the PBA. Halos lahat ng teams naranasan 'to. Ganoon talaga,” said Capacio, who bared he has a two-year contract with the team and will continue his work.
“Hopefully sa second conference hindi ganito ang mangyari.” (It’s really tough. It’s a process here in KIA. I hope the management is patient with us because there’s no shortcut here in the PBA. Almost all the teams went through this. This is how it works. Hopefully in the second conference it won’t be this way.)
The one positive takeaway from KIA’s first conference is pulling up surprises here and there. They gave their last two assignments, Meralco and NLEX, serious scares in an attempt to go out with a bang.
“Record-wise, siyempre kung titignan ay talagang pangit. Pero for a coach happy ako doon sa pinakita ng players ko kasi we're not that talented, a bunch of unknowns but we’re competing.” (Record-wise, of course it doesn’t look good. But for a coach, I’m happy with what the players showed because we’re not that talented, we’re a bunch of unknowns, but we’re competing.) – Rappler.com