Manny Pacquiao while being introduced as KIA Motors' head coach. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Boxing superstar and new KIA Motors head coach Manny Pacquiao is already excited to start his tenure as PBA coach.
The fighting congressman said he plans to incorporate the knowledge he gained from boxing to the sidelines of the basketball court.
“Malaki 'yung madadala ko from boxing kasi yung basketball, more on strategy at maraming different style,” Pacquiao, the first active boxer to become a professional basketball coach, said in the league’s official website.
Pacquiao said his players will have to prepare for a hard grind in training. “’Yung experience ko as boxer, madadala din sa training, kaya ‘yung mga players, maghanda na sila,” he said.
The Filipino boxer was initially tapped as a playing coach by KIA Motors, but league rules have prevented him from playing without going through the annual rookie draft.
Pacquiao said he has decided to shelve his playing ambitions for the sake of the team and the PBA fans.
“I’ll follow the rules and regulations of the PBA. Right now, my focus is sa pagiging head coach, kung pano ako makakabuo ng magaling na team,” said the eight-division boxing champion.
“Lagi kong iniisip ang mga fans at ang kapakanan ng performance ng team KIA. Ayoko namang mapahiya sa mga big boss,” added Pacquiao.
The newly appointed basketball coach said he already has a list of candidates for assistant coaches, who will aid him in coaching.
He promised to announce the names of his deputies on a later date.
PBA Commissioner Salud welcomes Pacquiao’s appointment as KIA Motors’ coach, saying the league will benefit from the boxer’s drawing power.
“What Manny brings to the table is the wow factor, the interest, and the pulling power,” the PBA chief said. “Manny is the embodiment of what the PBA is striving to stand for: Highest degree of excellence and sportsmanship with regard to public and fan interest. Kaya nag-iisa lang si Manny.”
Pacquiao has always maintained that basketball is his first love.
He used to coach and play in his very own MP GenSan Warriors, which saw action in the defunct Liga Pilipinas. He even used basketball as a cross training for boxing.
“Gusto ko na 'yung basketball before ako nag-boxing,” he said.