Kia Picanto finally got on the win column, ironically also the first win for head coach Ricky Dandan as far as being a PBA coach is concerned.
Known to be the whipping boys of the pro league, Kia brought down a big one in the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94. Though the game was marred by a near-brawl involving Eric Camson and Raymond Almazan, the fact is that the boys of coach Ricky stood their ground even with no prominent big man manning the slot.
Kia played sans Jay-R Reyes who was out with an injury while Prince Caperal struggled with foul trouble. Camson, not really a natural center, filled in before being ejected. Mark Yee uncharacteristically stood tall, holding the fort for the undersized Picanto.
While bashers would likely feast on Kia for passing up on Christian Hardinger, Dandan is no stranger to calling the shots for an undersized team. He did the same when he was still the head coach for the UP Fighting Maroons, a college team that made do without a dominant big man.
Against the Elasto Painters, Kia relied on its outside shooting and smart plays. Ronald Tubid, Glen Khobuntin, and Roider Cabrera delivered for coach Dandan and it looks like Picanto will live or die with the outside shot.
With Kia expected to employ a run-and-gun strategy, it will be interesting if such will hold up. They may pull off some surprises though their luck may run out against stronger teams in the long run. Regardless, it is the best they can do for now as they slowly try to put in missing pieces moving forward.
For now, it is all about trying to survive and prove to basketball aficionados that Kia is here to compete. A title-shot may be farthest from their minds, something that may eventually come into play if Kia is able to come up with a formidable roster.
Showing up to play with their hearts out is what Dandan may be looking for at the moment. It may suffice for now but the fact is Kia needs more guns and big men to keep in step with the heavyweights.
Kia recently added Carlo Lastimosa to the team and the word out is that they are looking for more. Curiously, they are reportedly looking for a big man – once again drawing backlash for passing on Standhardinger.
Most of the available talent are guards or small forwards like Jonas Villanueva, Joseph Yeo, and Chris Ellis. There are big men, free agents, though none of them stand out.
So even if Kia does end up signing a veteran big man, that player is not expected to be a major force to reckon with. The big guns are already on the team and the person they may have in mind may be tasked to do the dirty work – protect the rim, defend and rebound.
Again, does this not look like a familiar UP Fighting Maroon ploy? Regardless, if it works why not?