On Wednesday, they finally get their chance to show they were right after all.
The controversy surrounding the tenure of Chito Narvasa as commissioner was finally settled on Sunday, and it’s now Kia’s turn to show the PBA and its fans that it did well in giving up the No. 1 Draft pick that started the biggest issue that rocked the league.
The Picanto gave up the top pick in the draft—which turned out to be potential franchise star Christian Standhardinger—in a trade that gave Kia two benchwarmers and the veteran Ronald Tubid.
Kia defended its move, saying it was building a champion team via the “unconventional” route. In the aftermath of that decision, the Picanto also let go of national pool point guard LA Revilla, leaving a shell of the team that entered the league five years ago and showed so much promise.
At 4:15 p.m. at Filoil Flying V Centre on Wednesday, Kia makes its Philippine Cup debut against NLEX which, in the exact opposite manner that the Picanto handled their offseason, beefed up the best it could to challenge the powerhouses of the league.
No. 2 overall pick Kiefer Ravena, the former MVP and UAAP champion with Ateneo, will play a big role in the NLEX makeover as the Road Warriors try to sustain their remarkable improvement shown in the last Governors’ Cup, where they made it all the way to the quarterfinals.
Alaska, meanwhile, slugs it out with Magnolia (formerly Purefoods) in the 7 p.m. contest, with the Aces to play for the first time in years without erstwhile defensive coach Louie Alas.
Kevin Alas, another Gilas pool member, will be the second point guard for coach Yeng Guiao, who also has at his disposal veterans Larry Fonacier and JR Quiñahan.
The ageless Asi Taulava could be asked to play longer minutes than he did in the past two import-spiced conferences, being the best big man in the NLEX roster. Rabeh Al-Hussaini hasn’t lived up to his promise and continues to underachieve after several seasons.
Tubid, together with former San Miguel teammate Jay-R Reyes, will be the focal point of Kia’s unorthodox approach, with Mark Yee remaining as coach Chris Gavina’s best defensive man.
Kia has no point guards that could match up to Ravena and Alas. After Reyes, Gavina doesn’t have someone with the size of Taulava and Al-Hussaini, making the Picanto the underdogs against the Road Warriors and the rest of the field for that matter.
San Miguel—even without Standhardinger, who is not due until the middle of the Commissioner’s Cup—flaunted its vast might in Sunday’s opening day by whipping Phoenix Petroleum, 104-96.
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