Newly appointed KIA head coach Manny Pacquaio answers a question during a press conference in Makati. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao's plans of playing in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has been put on hold, at least for now, as the "Pacman" is focused on his new job as head coach of Team KIA.
On Monday, KIA Motors formally announced that Pacquiao will officially be the head coach of their basketball team when they make their debut in the next PBA season. It was originally reported that Pacquiao will serve as playing-coach, but those plans are now on hold.
“Sa ngayon, head coach ako,” Pacquiao said. “’Yung paglalaro, hindi pa natin alam ‘yan.”
“Basta ang focus ko ay sa pagko-coach, kumuha ng magagaling na players, at mag-organize ng magaling na team,” he added.
If he does decide to join the PBA as a player, Commissioner Chito Salud emphasized that Pacquiao – like all other rookies – will have to go through the draft process.
“That’s what our rules state at this time. All rookies must pass through the draft,” said Salud. “That would be a long time from now, that’s August 24.”
“A month before August 24, the list for applicant rookies should be in, and let’s all find out if the name Manny Pacquiao is on the list during that time,” he added.
Pacquiao emphasized, however, that he is concentrating on his duties as a head coach and wants to build a team that is defense-oriented.
“Ang focus namin sa team na ito is to stop the scoring (of the other team), ‘yung defense, kailangan pag-igtingin,” he said.
Pacquiao also wants his team to be versatile in terms of offense.
“Gusto ko, nandiyan ang lahat,” Pacquiao said in an interview with Dyan Castillejo of ABS-CBN News. “Depende sa magiging laro ng kalarong team. Gusto ko, maraming style ‘yung team ko.”
The team has yet to be completed, although they recently held well-attended tryouts. “May kulang pa,” said Pacquiao, adding that they expect to get more players in the dispersal draft in July and again in the rookie draft in August.
Pacquiao, who has had previous coaching experience in the Liga Pilipinas, also revealed that he plans to put his team through a mix of boxing- and basketball-styled training, the way he himself does when preparing for a fight.
“Pag ako nagte-training ng boxing, especially sa last fight ko with (Timothy) Bradley and (Brandon) Rios, in one week, may one day ako na basketball lang ‘yung lahat ng gagawin namin,” he said.
“So pwedeng paghaluin ‘yung ginagawang training ng boxing at basketball, especially ‘yung plyometrics,” he added.
The expansion team has yet to be named, but Pacquiao has some ideas.
“Basta hindi alisin ‘yung KIA,” he said, then suggested, “KIA Kamao,” a reference to one of his monikers, “Pambansang Kamao.”
KIA is one of the three expansion teams joining the PBA next season, along with Blackwater Spots and NLEX. -- With a report from Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News