As if juggling between being a lawmaker and boxer isn’t enough, Manny Pacquiao added yet another major title to his belt: Head Coach in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Kia Columbian Autocar Corporation, one of the three expansion teams in the PBA’s upcoming 40th season, formally introduced WBO Welterweight Champion Manny Pacquiao as its Head Coach in a press conference last June 9 at the Pacific Star Building in Makati City, Philippines.
Ending weeks of speculation, KIA made the surprise call to name the world famous boxer as head coach of its PBA team. The boxer/lawmaker seemed to be an unlikely choice to coach a professional basketball team in Asia’s premier basketball league given his lack of amateur and professional basketball experience. However his drawing power and popularity in his home country will earn a lot of fans for KIA and sell a lot of basketball tickets for the PBA next season.
But the team’s decision to tap Pacquaio as coach was questioned by many PBA followers.
But the PBA was quick to come to the Pacman’s defense. PBA Commissioner Chito Salud pointed out “the wow factor, the point of interest and the pulling power” as the main reasons why the PBA approves of Pacquiao being a PBA coach. Salud added that Pacquiao is the “embodiment of what the PBA is striving for” and that is “the highest degree of excellence and sportsmanship with regard to the fans and the public interest.”
Love of Basketball
For his part, Manny Pacquiao said that before he was into boxing, he was already “in love” with basketball. He adds that while he has achieved great things in boxing, he has not forgotten about basketball and that it “is still in his heart”. Pacquiao called it a “new chapter” in his life and said that he wants to prove himself in basketball just as he did in boxing. Pacquiao even joked that he got into boxing by signing a contract he thought was for basketball.
But the big concern of his boxing fans in this new endeavor is how he will be able to divide his time between training, lawmaking and coaching a full season in the PBA. Pacquiao was quick to reply “time management” and “discipline”. He believes that he can handle all of his chores and manage all of them well.
The PBA’s 40th season opens on October 19 and by that time, Pacquiao would be in deep training for his proposed November 23 boxing bout. By fight month, the PBA Philippine Cup conference will be entering the latter stages of the eliminations and the early round playoffs. Critics say Pacquiao could be “torn between two loves.” Again, Pacquiao was quick to reply “time management” as the key to balancing his act. He added that he will be doing his boxing training in the Philippines.
Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum wasn’t too pleased to hear the news from the Philippines. Arum said that Pacquiao is a far more superior boxer than a basketball player. He said that Pacman is a good “club player” but then “that’s about it.” He added that he doesn’t think that the coaching job “is serious.”
Pacman fans hope that Arum’s right on this one, or else this may be another boxing distraction that he refuses to admit.