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KIA’s rise on and off hardcourt

AT least for one team, it has been proven that the Philippine Basketball Association is truly the best vehicle to sell one’s product to Pinoy consumers.

 Columbian Autocar Corporation President Elena Mari Ginia Domingo revealed that since joining the PBA this season, their company has enjoyed a 23% growth in sales.

 CAC is one of two expansion teams that were accepted by the PBA last season and they own the KIA squad that also had a gradual growth in the league, performance-wise.

 Domingo though admitted that a huge factor of their sales increase is the overall upsurge of car sales which this year rose to about 15%.

 “But more than that, what we really like about our PBA participation is ‘yung mga non-quantifiable gains. Whenever I travel and they see me wearing a KIA shirt, talagang sinisigaw nila ‘yung brand and si Manny Pacquiao,” said Domingo. “During the first conference, mga empleyado lang ang pumapalakpak. By the third conference nakikita na namin na may mga fans who regularly cheer for us.”

 Pacquiao, of course, is the acknowledged playing-coach of the team which, entering next season, will change its name to Mahindra Enforcers, though assistant coach Chito Victolero is regarded by many as the man responsible for KIA’s rise.

 “May approval na kami sa PBA. Ang Mahindra is a division of CAC and ang decision ng board is to help market the product,” said Domingo.

 There’s won’t be any major changes though within the composition of the team except for Tomas Alvarez, who will be named as their representative to the PBA board.

 The team will also have two new alternate governors, namely Chito Santos and Bobby Rosales who happens to be the head of their basketball operations.

 “We still have Mr. Eric Pineda as team manager, together with Mr. Joe Ramos as assistant team manager. The coaching staff will still be the same,” added Domingo.

 Domingo, meanwhile, made a clarification about insinuations that Pacquiao has a stake in their PBA franchise or their company.

 “To set the record straight, walang pagmamay-ari si congressman Manny sa Columbian Autocar Corporation,” disclosed Domingo.

 ANOTHER HEARTBREAKER. Superflyweight bet Arthur Villanueva lost in his first world title attempt when his bout opposite McJoe Arroyo of Puerto Rico was stopped in the 10th round yesterday in EL Paso, Texas.

 The bout was stopped after referee Rafael Ramos decided that Villanueva could not continue because of a supposed dangerous cut on the Filipino challenger’s right eye.

 The 26-year-old Villanueva, when contacted by this writer, has insisted that the match was stopped prematurely and it happened at a time when he felt he was already gaining enough momentum to score an upset.

 “May dugo talaga siya nu’ng nagkaroon ng headbutt sa 6th round, pero nagtataka lang ako, kasi nu’ng itinigil ng referee, wala nang dugo ‘yung cut,” said a distraught Villanueva.

 Villanueva felt that he could still continue and that the cut was not that serious as his cornermen were able to do a splendid job on the cut.

 “May momentum na ako at napansin ko na hindi na siya masyado sumusuntok. Alam ko naman na medyo dehado ako sa referee and judges pero hindi ko akalain na ganito ang gagawin nila,” said Villanueva.

 As the bout was stopped in the 10th due to a cut, the match went to the scorecards, where Arroyo got the nod of all three judges via scores of 97-92 and identical 98-91 tallies on the two other cards.

 “‘Yung mga tao nag-boo sa decision and pagbaba ng ring marami din ang nag-congratulate sa akin,” said Villanueva.

 Team Villanueva, who is led by chief trainer Edito Villamor, is scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning.

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