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KIA team play leads to surprise win vs TNT

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED)– After being popularly known as “Manny Pacquiao’s team” since their entry into the PBA as a new club this season, the KIA Carnival may have finally earned a new nickname: Giant killers.

For the third time in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the Carnival took down a championship contender. On Wednesday, February 25, it was the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters who became the rookie franchise's latest victims, falling 106-103 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Carnival shared the basketball all-game long and finished with 33 assists. Their import PJ Ramos put up an impressive 24-point, 25-rebound performance, while former DLSU Green Archer Hyram Bagatsing stepped up off the bench with 21 markers on 6 triples.

Eight-division boxing champion and Carnival playing-coach Manny Pacquiao was in action for a second straight game, but he finished with 0 points on 0-of-2 shooting. But he wasn’t required to fill up the scoreboard, as a total of 6 KIA players scored in double-figures.

“Nagpapaalamat ako sa lahat ng sumuporta, sa Panginoon na duminig sa panalangin namin,” the Filipino boxing champion said after the game. He plans on playing in KIA’s next game on Saturday, February 28, against Blackwater, as they aim to improve to 4-4 this conference.

(I thank everyone who supported the team, and to the Lord for answering our prayers).

“Baka maglaro din ako sa Sabado (I might play as well on Saturday),” he said, before mentioning that he plans to fly out to Los Angeles following the game to get ready for his upcoming fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr in Las Vegas on May 2.

PBA journeyman Leo Avenido was superb in his 27:30 minutes, putting up 16 points on just 7 shot attempts. Reil Cervantes and Kyle Pascual both played impressive as well, finishing with 10 markers each.

The high-scoring game went down the wire. Unfortunately for TNT, who was playing their second game with new import Ivan Johnson, they couldn’t rely on Jayson Castro to hit a bail-out game-winner this time around.

After Johnson tied the game at 98 with a few minutes to go, Ramos came back down on the next possession and put his club up two with a hook shot. Johnson then failed to tie the game again, and making matters worse for the Texters, Avenido hit a wide-open right corner triple to help KIA establish a five-point lead.

Johnson missed another basket not long after, and then Ramos scored on a layup to put his team up 7 with 1:13 to go.

TNT refused to go down without a fight and leaned on a layup and 3-ball from Castro and Larry Fonacier to get within three, 106-103. After Avenido missed on a pair of free throws and Cervantes misfired a step-back triple, the door was left open for the Texters to send the game to overtime with 10 seconds left.

Unfortunately for them, Ranidel De Ocampo missed his 3-ball attempt from the top of the key, sealing the loss.

Castro had 24 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds to lead his team, which fell to 5-2. Johnson finished with 21 points on 22 shots and 5 fouls. Veterans De Ocampo and Fonacier put up a combined 24 markers.

After the game, Pacquiao said making the playoffs isn’t the only goal he has in mind for his club.

“Di lang pumasok (sa playoffs) mag-champion [rin], imposible ba yan?” He asked.

(Not just to make the playoffs, but also to win the championship. Is that impossible?)

KIA is now in eighth place in the standings, while TNT holds the second seed.


KIA (106) - Ramos 24, Bagatsing 21, Avenido 16, Pascual 10, Cervantes 10, Buensuceso 10, Revilla 5, Dehesa 5, Cawaling 3, Alvarez 2, Thiele 0, Poligrates 0, Pacquiao 0.

TALK N' TEXT (103) - Castro 24, Johnson 21, Fonacier 13, Rosser 12, Aban 12, De Ocampo 11, Reyes R.J. 6, Alas 4, Carey 0.

Quarterscores: 22-33, 50-51, 78-76, 106-103