Over the hump
Kia Picanto is rebuilding, only to find out that this ragtag crew could do just fine.
Lumbering in obscurity and ridicule for the early part of the PBA Philippine Cup, the Picanto on Saturday night snapped a four-game skid in the tournament—and an eight-month losing streak—by bringing down Rain or Shine in a fight-marred contest, 98-94, at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
“I am very happy,” Ricky Dandan, thrust to the head coaching job after Chris Gavina resigned two weeks ago, said of his first win that was tainted by a fight between Eric Camson and Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan late in the second quarter.
“This [win] will go a long way in the rebuilding of our ballclub,” said the former University of the Philippines Maroon of the win, which the Picanto last tasted on May 21, 2017 under Gavina.
Magnolia won a third straight game later in the night, outlasting Phoenix Petroleum, 97-91.
The Hotshots rose to 4-1, half-a-game behind solo unbeaten leader San Miguel Beer, while the Fuel Masters tied the Elasto Painters at 2-3 after a second straight loss.
A day before, Kia signed up Carlo Lastimosa from the free agent market after getting a release from NLEX. Team consultant Joe Lipa, the former national coach, also hinted that they will still look to sign a big man and another scorer.
Kia came into the game losing its last three contests by an average of over 35 points, while the Painters had all sorts of momentum going their way after a 120-99 ripping of the Fuel Masters on Wednesday.
“I’m relieved,” Dandan said. “We really had no choice but to move forward and look at the positives of those blowouts. Our confidence was shot [during that losing streak].”
Fines are expected to be stiff for Camson and Almazan, though it was clear in replays that the Kia bruiser took the first shot by landing an elbow on the Gilas Pilipinas center’s head.
They were later heard hurling invectives at each other on their way to their locker rooms.
“It wasn’t intended,” Camson said. “ I was just boxing out. I am willing to apologize.”
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