I’m astonished the first time I read an article that says Manny Pacquiao is playing basketball in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). I said what? And not just a player, but he will be a “playing coach”. Pacquiao reportedly reached agreement with KIA Motors as playing coach for their team that will debut on October 21 in the PBA.
Well, because Pacquiao is popular — he can do whatever he likes. But it doesn’t mean he’ll not go through the process.
According to a PBA official via Sports.inquirer.net, Pacquiao needs to enter PBA rookie draft.
“Basta coach, pwede, pero pag naglaro ka sa PBA kailangan dumaan ka sa draft (He can be a coach but if anyone wants to play in the PBA, he needs to join the draft),” Marcial said.”
Apart from being a boxing superstar, congressman, action star, singer, pastor, Pacquiao loves basketball in the first place. In an interview earlier in his career, Pacquiao said that his first love is basketball — that is typical to most Filipinos — to play basketball. Even if you find many Filipinos excel in sports other than basketball — it still boils down to basketball is their first choice but end up in other sports because Filipinos lacks the height and size for this sport. The average Filipino height is just 163.5 cm or 5′ 4.4″ according to Disabled-world.com
Playing basketball in the PBA is another dream come true for Manny Pacquiao. Before he found success in boxing, I know he dreamed also to become a PBA player — just like any other Filipinos and that includes me. I know that many boxing fans (even die hard Pacquiao fans) raise an eyebrow on Pacquiao decision to play basketball. I read many negative posts on Facebook criticizing the eight division champion on his intention to play ball. The one that captures my attention is an article at Philboxing written by Ricah Trinidad on May 11. The headline reads “PLEASE DON’T HIRE PACQUIAO AS A MASCOT”. Well, if KIA Motors simply needs endorser for their car products I think they made the right choice, which is to hire Pacquaio. But of course not as a “playing coach” for their team but maybe a TV commercial model.
In actual professional basketball game
Pacquiao has been playing basketball as a recreation even before he becomes a boxing superstar. And his long time coach Freddie Roach knows that. Roach allowed Pacquaio to play even if he has upcoming fight. Basketball helps also build stamina necessary for a boxer. But during the game, the players that Pacquiao played with know very well that they should not play intensely against Pacquiao, especially the player that will guard the Filipino boxing icon. Do you expect someone that guard Pacquiao will apply sticky defense against him? Do you think anyone from those five players in the opposite team will challenge with real intention to block the ball when Pacquiao drives the ball to the hoops? Of course not — they don’t want Pacquiao get injured.
However, in the PBA, it will be another story. There will be no hesitation to steal the ball from Pacquiao, challenge his shots or play physical against him — in offense or in defense. It’s not Pacquiao who is at stake there, but their respective teams. To win each game. The possibility of Pacquiao being injured is high. So high that a certain injury like ACL would kill his boxing career instantly. I read an article that presents an argument that PBA is more physical than NBA. In Tagalog term they call it “balyahan” [ang laro sa PBA]. I just don’t know how to say it in English. I’m not saying Pacquiao will not sustain the physical aspects in basketball… haler… he’s an elite boxer. There’s no way that basketball’s physicality surpasses boxing. But I’m sure these are two different physical sports that requires separate training, focus and attention.
Pacquiao’s impact in the PBA
Either in Smart Araneta or MOA arena, starting October 21, there would be additional surge of basketball fans in queue for their tickets. Pacquiao will draw more fans in the venue and millions will watch on TV, which is good for the PBA.
My concern is: What quality of basketball game can Pacquiao offer the basketball fans? I know that Pacquiao can play basketball. But against the PBA pros; he might ask question to himself while playing: what am I doing here? He’s a star in the boxing ring but he could be an eyesore in the hard-court. Watch out starting October 21, 2014.