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PBA: Coach Manny to see action

Manny Pacquiao against Sunday Salvacion of Blackwter. Photo by Tony Pionilla

Games Today (Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:15 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – Purefoods vs Kia

Manila, Philippines – There’s no doubt that boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has once again inspired the nation with his convincing win over American Chris Algieri in Macau.

Will that feat motivate his Kia Motors too?

The answer will be known when the Pacquiao-led expansion takes on Grand Slam champion Purefoods Star in the PBA Philippine Cup today at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The encounter between Purefoods and Kia is set at 7 p.m. after the 4:15 p.m. game between Barako Bull and Blackwater.

Pacquiao, the Kia playing-coach, arrived last Monday and word quickly spread that he will be present in the Sorento’s game against Purefoods.

Yesterday, the PBA’s Commissioner’s Office – through league media bureau chief Willie Marcial – confirmed that the boxing champion will be in uniform come game time.

The league, as its way of thanking the 35-year-old Pacquiao for bringing yet another honor to the country, has prepared a tribute for the prized, a congressman at Sarangani Province.

While the 5-foot-6 Pacquiao was a favorite to win that fight, the same is not expected of his basketball squad as Kia will be facing a team that is aiming for its fourth straight victory.

However, Kia assistant coach Glenn Capacio is confident Pacquiao’s presence will be an inspiration to work hard and win the game.

“Ibang klase yung inspirasyon na maibibigay ni coach Manny,” said Capacio, who watched the fight in Macau together with the rest of the team. “Hopefully we can get a win, may chance pa naman kami maka-playoffs.”

At the moment, Kia holds a 1-7 card, one game behind Barako Bull (2-6) for the final 10th spot of the quarterfinal playoffs.

A win isn’t actually new for Kia since it scored a come-from-behind 80-66 victory against fellow newcomer Blackwater when the league opened shop last Oct. 19 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

In that game, Pacquiao was scoreless with two turnovers in the first seven minutes of the opening quarter. At that time, he limited himself from playing since he was in the middle of training for the Algieri fight.

This time, Pacquiao adviser and Kia team manager Eric Pineda said there is a possibility the boxer will see more action.

Kia, however, will face a heavily-favored team that won its previous three games capped by a 77-74 win against Meralco last Sunday in Biñan, Laguna, that improved its record to 4-3.

A win by the Tim-Cone mentored Hotshots will create a three-way tie in the standings for fourth to sixth places with Talk ’N Text and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on 5-3 win-loss cards.