MANILA - "The People's Champion" Manny Pacquiao is known to be a huge fan of the Boston Celtics, especially of Kevin Garnett.
But after his encounter with Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant at a pictorial in the United States, Pacquiao declared in his July 12 “Kumbinasyon” column that he is a full-fledged Lakers fan.
“Dahil na rin sa marami akong mga kaibigang basketball players, lalung-lalo na sa karibal nilang Boston Celtics, hindi ko naiwasang humanga sa pagiging humble ni Kobe,” Pacquiao said in his “Kaibigang Kobe” article posted on PhilBoxing.com.
The Celtics themselves are fans of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter. They watched Pacquiao’s bout against David Diaz in 2008 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pacquiao won by technical knockout in the ninth round and clinched the World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight belt.
Upon Pacquiao’s victory, the Celtics, led by the Big Three—Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen—went to the Filipino fighter’s room to congratulate him.
The Celtics even had their pictures taken with the Filipino boxing icon. They were also vocal about their admiration of Pacquiao as the boxer was of them.
Will wait for Kobe in RP
Meantime, at the Nike photo shoot with Bryant, Pacquiao shared that he and his family had their pictures taken with the 2009 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
“Naging mainit at masaya ang aming pagkikita sa aming magkabilang set nitong nakaraang araw kasama si Kobe,” he wrote. “Masasabi kong nahulog ang aking loob sa mabuting ipinakita sa akin ni Ginoong Bryant.”
“Sabi ko sa kanya, mula ngayon, ako ay isa nang ganap na Lakers fan at hihintayin ko siya sa Pilipinas sa darating na araw para naman maipakita ko rin ang hospitality na naging sikat sa ating mga Pilipino,” continued Pacquiao.
Bryant is set to arrive in Manila for six-city Asian tour beginning July 21. From Manila, Bryant will proceed to Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Chengdu.
Pacquiao detailed that he and Bryant are among the world’s top athletes featured in Nike billboards that will be put up nationwide in the US. The other sports stars include Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Maria Sharapova.
“The Pacman” said he was writing his piece from Malungon, Sarangani province. He shared that he just arrived from the Los Angeles, California where his one-day pictorial took place.
He said his wife, Jinkee, and children stayed at their new house in LA during their brief US visit.
Pacquiao then talked about his current preoccupation which is a darts tournament in Sarangani.
He said he is set to join the event which he ordered to be organized. He shared that renowned dart players from around the country have signed up for the tournament.
In addition, he said he is busy with the shooting for his two movies. He related that he is enjoying his showbiz work.
“Ganyan po ang aking buhay kapag wala pa ring laban. Marami akong pinagkaka-abalahan gaya ng mga proyektong nabanggit,” he mentioned.
As for his next fight, Pacquiao still has no final word on the matter. Details such as the catch weight and fight date reportedly have yet to be determined.
Although he noted that he would probably face World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico. Negotiations for the fight are reportedly still ongoing.