MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao vowed to show a different playing style when he returns to PBA action after his WBO welterweight title defense against American Chris Algieri on November 23.
Pacquiao famously took a break from training camp last October 19 during the opening day of the 40th PBA season. The playing coach of expansion team KIA Sorento, Pacquiao started for his team and played around seven minutes.
“My focus was on Algieri. I promised (trainer) Freddie (Roach) I wouldn’t do anything crazy on the court, like risk an injury,” Pacquiao said of his PBA debut, as quoted by Joaquin Henson of The Philippine Star.
KIA went on to win the game, 80-66, against fellow expansion team Blackwater but Pacquiao did not return to the contest even though fans at the sold-out Philippine Arena chanted his name.
Pacquiao told Henson that he could not play his “usual game” against Blackwater because his upcoming title defense against Algieri was at the back of his mind.
“In the barangays and regional leagues, I’m used to playing rough basketball,” Pacquiao said. “But with the Algieri fight coming up, I couldn’t risk making contact.”
“It will be different after the fight when I return to play in the PBA,” he promised.
Pacquiao has not seen action in the PBA since opening day, and has not been on the KIA bench as well. He remains in contact with the team, however, and gives them pep talks during half time.
“Even when I’m not around, I’m in contact with our coaches by phone during games. I’m watching on TV in GenSan, and I’m telling the coaches whom to bring in and bring out, what plays to call,” the boxer said.
KIA currently has a 1-2 record in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup, and Pacquiao said the goal is for the team to at least make the playoffs.
“Our goal is to make it to the next round. We’ve got one win so far, and we’ll need at least two more to make sure we don’t get eliminated right away,” he said.
Since their come-from-behind opening day win against Blackwater, KIA has been blown out in its next two games, losing to Ginebra, 87-55, and to Rain or Shine, 117-88.
Henson reported that the entire KIA Sorento squad will be in attendance when Pacquiao defends his belt against Algieri at the Cotai Arena in Macau later this month.
“Basketball is not a difficult sport,” Pacquiao told Henson. “To win, players just have to execute and do what they’re supposed to do.”
“I always tell my players they shouldn’t be intimidated, that this is their time to prove what they can do as basketball players,” he added.
The KIA Sorento’s next game is on Tuesday against the GlobalPort Batang Pier.