Inspired by Pacquiao's return, Kia nears Govs Cup playoffs by ousting Meralco

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Manny Pacquiao, despite a season-ending shoulder injury he suffered in his last boxing match against Floyd Mayweather, showed up for Kia in its do-or-die PBA Governors' Cup match on Wednesday.

His appearance was enough for the Carnival to be motivated for the win.

Kia's slim playoff hopes got a boost as held on to an 88-85 win against Meralco at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Despite getting pushed to the brink of possible elimination, the Bolts still kept the race for the eighth spot interesting as they kept the Carnival from getting the needed 17-point winning margin to enter the quarterfinals outright.

In fact, the Bolts had a shot at making the next round as they threatened to pull away from a close contest and led, 77-71, with less than six minutes left in the game.

But the Carnival began their final blow as Karl Dehesa made five straight points and L.A. Revilla made back-to-back baskets to highlight a 9-1 run to retake the lead, 80-78, with 2:53 remaining.

Andre Emmett equalized with a field goal of his own, but Joshua Webb made a critical triple to keep Kia up, 83-80, with 1:04 left.

Meralco failed to convert in the next play, but the team stayed in contention as Hamady N'Diaye could only split from the free throw line later.

Reynel Hugnatan made a short jumper to cut the lead to two, 84-82, with 23.8 seconds to go.

Revilla made his own pair of charities, and the lead was stretched to four, 86-82, with 18.6 ticks on the clock.

Gary David fished a foul while taking a three-pointer with 6.4 seconds left. He made all his three free throws to trim the gap to one, 86-85.

Revilla got two points back as he made both his free throws a second later.

David had one last attempt, but his potential equalizer from beyond the arc only hit the rim.

N'Diaye tallied 24 points, while Revilla added 16 along with five rebounds and five assists for Kia, which now needs to hope NLEX beats Ginebra in the next game to make the quarterfinals.

Emmett ended his Governors' Cup stint with a game-high 35 markers.

Kia 88-N'Diaye 24, Revilla 16, Yee 13, Dehesa 10, Buensuceso 8, Avenido 6, Webb 5, Cawaling 2, Pascual 2, Bagatsing 2, Deutchman 0, Chang 0, Alvarez 0

Meralco 85-Emmett 35, David 14, Hugnatan 9, Atkins 6, Hodge 5, Dillinger 4, Nabong 3, Guevarra 3, Anthony 2, Ildefonso 2, Cortez 2, Ando 0

Quarterscores: 22-19, 44-41, 61-63, 88-85