MANILA – Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao insists he does not need to enter the rookie draft in order to serve as the playing coach of KIA Motors in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Pacquiao is planning to be the playing-coach of KIA as the team prepares to make its PBA debut next season, but those plans may be hindered by the league’s rules.
"Hindi siya pwedeng diretso agad sa KIA, unless the board later on decides to give KIA a special concession," PBA media bureau chief Williw Marcial has said.
"All rookie hopefuls have to apply for the draft. Once included in the final list of draft applications, they go through the draft exercise," PBA operations chief Rickie Santos also said.
Pacquiao, having never played in the PBA, will technically be a rookie and thus needs to undergo the draft process, but the champion boxer insists he can bypass the draft.
"Ako ang head coach ng KIA, so magiging playing-coach ako, so hindi na kailangang dumaan sa (draft)," Pacquiao said.
"Sa rules and regulations ng PBA, hindi na kailangang dumaan sa draft. Kailangan dumaan pag player ka lang, pero kung coach ka, hindi na kailangan," he added.
"'Yun naman 'yung rules and regulations."
But it seems that even executives of Team KIA are resigned to the fact that Pacquiao will have to go through the rookie draft in order to push through with his plans of being a playing-coach.
"We explored past precedents of expansion teams allowed to make direct hires, but we were told the Board of Governors won’t allow it this time," said Pacquiao's associate Eric Pineda, who is being groomed to be the KIA team manager, in an interview with Joaquin Henson of The Philippine Star.
"If Manny has to go through the draft to play for KIA, we just hope no other team picks him ahead of us," he added.
KIA, along with other expansion teams NLEX and Blackwater, hold the 11th to 16th picks in the August 24 rookie draft.
The last person to serve as playing-coach in the PBA was the legendary Robert Jaworski. But prior to being the playing-coach of Gilbey's Gin, Jaworksi was drafted by Toyota in the 1975 rookie draft. From a report by Francis Canlas, ABS-CBN News SOKSARGEN