Boxing hero, legislator, basketball coach. Manny Pacquiao is now all three.
He would have wanted to play with the big boys, too, but he needed to go through a player draft for that.
The holder of eight boxing world titles and a congressman representing Sarangani, Pacquiao on Monday signed as head coach of Kia, one of three new teams in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Kia will see action in the pro league’s 40th season starting late this year, and Pacquiao will call the shots from the bench.
At a news conference at the Kia office in Makati City, the 35-year-old Pacquiao said he is excited about his new job.
“I’m really happy to coach a team in the PBA. It’s a dream come true for me and I really want this team to be a true winner. This will be our first time in the PBA, but we’ll do our best,” he added.
Pacquiao said he is ready to impart to his players the spirit of competitiveness, dedication and hard work.
He took on a new calling because “I need to prove that my skills aren’t limited to just boxing, but basketball as well.”
“Basketball is my first love before I pursue my boxing career, and this is a huge opportunity,” said Pacquiao, who honed his basketball skills by playing pick-up street games.
He gave assurances that his coaching chores will not diminish his interest in boxing and lawmaking.
“My job as a head coach and as congressman won’t affect my boxing career for sure because there are many guys around who will help me. It’s all about time management as well,” Pacquiao said.
When asked if he will impose his strict training regimen on the KIA players, Pacquiao replied, “Yes, all my players need to be energetic and have great stamina. It’s all the same in boxing that players must be in good condition. They will train just like me.”
Pacquiao’s long-time adviser Mike Koncz, who accompanied him to the news conference, said he was relieved to know that Pacquiao has dropped his plan to play as well.
“Pacquiao loves basketball very much, for sure, but I told him that he can’t sacrifice his livelihood, which is boxing. The risk of injury is high if ever he plays basketball. Under all these circumstances, I guess I’m not worrying anymore because Manny will not play,” Koncz added.
He said Pacquiao is scheduled to go to Israel or the US this week for a vacation.
Eric Pineda, Pacquiao’s long-time business manager, did not divulge the terms and details of the coaching contract but said it would last for three to five years.
“The process of being a player in the PBA is so sensitive, that’s why we and Manny decided just to coach the team for now,” said Pineda. “It’s a long-term engagement with Kia and we’re looking forward to it.”
Pacquiao gave up his dream of playing with the hardcourt pros because the PBA requires a rookie player to go through a draft.
He himself said he is not thinking of playing yet in the PBA. “My focus is to coach the team.”
Aside from Kia, the other expansion teams in the PBA are NLEX and Blackwater.