Manny Pacquiao no big deal as cager
BOCAUE, Bulacan—The novelty of Manny Pacquiao playing in the PBA was well-applauded Sunday, but the world’s only boxer to win titles in eight divisions realized—the hard way— that basketball is one sport he will find hard to excel in as a player.
The 5-foot-6 Pacquiao got all the boost he needed from the record opening-day crowd at Philippine Arena here, playing close to seven minutes in starting out at the off-guard spot for newcomer KIA Sorento against fellow rookie team Blackwater Elite.
But unlike in his storied fights where he feeds off the crowd’s cheers, Pacquiao never managed to get going.
And he can expect much of the same no-VIP-treatment from all of the Sorentos foes from now on.
Players, according to a utility personnel of one powerhouse squad, have vowed to make life hard for Pacquiao, who still felt he had free time in his hands that he decided to try playing and coaching in the PBA even with his duties as a prizefighter and Saranggani congressman.
“Our players, especially the guards, have been talking about it (Pacquiao in the PBA) and they promised that he won’t be getting special treatment,” a staff of a popular team told the Inquirer just after Pacquiao led the Sorentos in the traditional parade of teams.
KIA had Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, as its muse.
“They agreed that they will never allow Pacquiao an open shot because it’s their job to stop him,” added the utility man, who asked not to be identified. “If they allow him an uncontested jump shot or layup, fans may cheer. But they (opposing players) will look bad and they will be answerable to our coach.”
Pacquiao’s first seven minutes were forgettable, to say the least, as he wound up scoreless while lapsing into two turnovers that led to the Elite zooming to an early 15-6 lead.
He had a far better performance during the warm-ups, where, after missing his first 11 attempts, he made four of his last five, including a circus reverse layup after throwing the ball against the backboard.
He must be able to do that in games if he—and KIA—hope to keep the novelty of his PBA sojourn going.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.