IT’S COMMON knowledge that every time there’s a Pacquiao fight, the crime rate in the Philippines significantly goes down and thoroughfares in the country become empty.
That’s because everybody will be glued to their television sets watching the fight. NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez and his Road Warriors, however, nearly became the exception. They would not have been able to watch today’s Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley showdown live since Boyet scheduled an important practice session from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Counting the extra hour when the team cools down and packs up, the fight would have been over by the time they were done.
“The Meralco gym was available to us only at this time. Lahat kasi umiiwas sa time ng laban ni Pacquiao,” Boyet explained. “Much as I want to watch today’s fight live, first things first. The D-League’s best-of-three final series between NLEX and Big Chill starts tomorrow and we’re facing a very strong team.”
“I’m not downplaying our chances. If you look at both team’s statistics and both lineups, you will know na pantay ang laban.”
Statistically, Big Chill is tops in offense while NLEX is numero Uno in defense. Big Chill is second in defense, wile NLEX is fourth on offense.
Boyet was resigned to watching the much-awaited Pacquiao-Bradley fight late in the evening when he gets home—if he can catch the replay.
“After our practice, I have to head straight to the Smart-Araneta Coliseum for the Meralco game (He is the Bolts assistant coach).”
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I asked coach Boyet, who has a PBA title tucked under his belt which he won for Sta. Lucia a few years ago, if he is having chills at the prospect of facing a hungrier team in the Superchargers.
Boyet, who is eyeing a D-League Grand Slam, said that although he feels a little pressure at this point, this is alleviated by the knowledge that the Road Warriors are amply prepared for the upcoming title series.
“When you’re prepared, the confidence level rises as stress and anxiety diminish,” he said, as he predicted “a very, very exciting championship clash” between back-to-back titlist NLEX and the Robert Sison-mentored Big Chill.
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Just before presstime, I got a call from the NLEX camp informing me that today’s practice session has been rescheduled after the players and just about everybody in the team roared in protest and sulked upon learning that they would miss the Pacquiao fight.
Realizing the possible repercussions, Boyet relented and gave in to everybody’s clamor. Today’s workout was moved an hour earlier from 8 to 11 a.m. to give everybody—including Boyet—the chance to watch the fight live.
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Yesterday, I got word thousands of miles away in Las Vegas from my associate that he has never seen a more tranquil scenario on the eve of a Pacquiao fight with Manny and wife Jinkee relaxing in their Mandalay Bay suite and everything was peaceful and quiet.
“It is a very rare scenario before the day of the fight, which is usually tumultuous,” he said, as he described the calm and the storm that occurred in reverse.
The storm did not concern the Pacquiaos but the key people working around Manny: Freddie Roach, Bob Arum and Alex Ariza.
“Freddie and Arum want Ariza out. They just can’t get along. The two have openly asked Manny for Alex’s dismissal but Manny continues to back him up. Everything has been settled temporarily, although Ariza continues to badmouth Arum,” my source said.