Manny Pacquiao plans return to ‘first love’ basketball

Filipino boxing superstar declares intention to become playing coach for expansion team in Philippine Basketball Association.
Manny Pacquiao has maintained basketball to be his first love even as he grew up to be a superstar boxer. Jeoffrey Maitem / Getty Images
Manny Pacquiao has maintained basketball to be his first love even as he grew up to be a superstar boxer. Jeoffrey Maitem / Getty Images

Being world boxing champion, a politician, an actor and a preacher are not enough for Manny Pacquiao, who now wants to be a professional basketball player.

The WBO welterweight champion caused shock waves of disbelief among his most ardent Filipino fans by declaring his intention to become a playing coach for an expansion team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

“Even when I was a kid, even before I learnt to box, basketball was my first love,” said Pacquiao, who has won an unprecedented eight boxing world titles in different divisions.

The undersized Pacquiao is 169 centimetres tall and has no basketball experience in competitive leagues, but plans to serve as playing coach for the new Kia Motors team when PBA play starts in October.

He defended himself against critics who said he would be no match for the professionals of the league, which has produced players with enough quality to see the Philippines qualify for this year’s World Cup.

Pacquiao enjoys playing intense pickup games during breaks in training for his boxing matches and remains in top physical condition while enjoying a successful sunset to his career in the ring.

Pacquiao will rely on his experience from playing in the streets and town squares, and said his years in the ring would help him on the basketball court, especially in coaching.

“You create strategies during the game,” he said. “It is like boxing. When I’m in a fight, my mind works and shifts faster. In a split second, I can decide on changing strategies.”

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Published: May 31, 2014 04:00 AM

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