FROM boxing champion to television host to congressman to pastor and now to basketball playing coach in the PBA.
Global boxing icon Manny Pacquiao said on Thursday he has reached an agreement to be the playing coach of Kia Motors when the expansion team makes its debut in the PBA on October 21.
“Yes, maglalaro ako sa PBA sa October. Playing coach ako (Yes, I'll play in the PBA this October. I'll be a playing-coach),” the eight-division world boxing champion told Spin.ph.
Pacquiao, 35, said the agreement was reached during a meeting with Ginia Domingo, head of Columbia Autocar Corp., distributor of Kia vehicles in the country, at the Pacific Star Hotel past noon on Thursday.
“Nag-usap na kami, wala pang pirmahan ng contract pero okay na kami (We've already talked. We haven't signed a contract but we've agreed in principle),” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao bared he has long idolized basketball legend Robert Jaworski and now wants to emulate his playing-coach role with Ginebra in the eighties and nineties as he makes his foray into professional basketball.
Asked what he can bring to the table as a PBA coach, the hard-hitting boxer expressed confidence that he is equipped with enough coaching knowledge since he has been playing the same role in different minor leagues he has played with his Team Pacquiao touring team.
To listen to podcast of full interview with Manny Pacquiao, click HERE
The plan, though, still faces a roadblock since the PBA board had earlier shot down a motion to allow Kia and two other expansion teams - Blackwater Sports and NLEX - to directly tap players from the rookie ranks.
Under those guidelines, Pacquiao may have to go through the PBA rookie draft on August 24 to be able to suit up as the oldest rookie in the 39-year history of Asia's first professional basketball league.
However, Pacquiao expressed confidence that he may not need to go through the draft if he is a playing-coach of Kia.
“'Yung rules naman daw nila, pag playing-coach pwedeng lumaro sa team (They say the rules allow you to play for a team if you're a playing coach),” he said. “So 'yun ang aming pinag-aaralan ngayon (So that's what we're looking at right now).”
Pacquiao said he is set to sign a contract with Columbia Motors soon so he can start putting the pieces together for the team's first season in the pro league.
“Sa July pa naman ang (dispersal) draft,” said Pacquiao, a basketball nut who plays hoops as part of his cross training, even in the weeks leading up to his bouts.
Pacquiao also assured the plan to suit up in the PBA has already been cleared with his promoter, Top Rank big boss Bob Arum, who has reportedly extended his boxing promotional contract until 2016.
“Wala namang problema 'yan. Walang problema 'yan (It won't be problem with Arum),” he said when asked about the set-up with his longtime promoter.
Asked about fears raised by fans that his stint in the PBA may end up ruining his boxing career, Pacquiao said: “Coach lang naman ako. Maglalaro ako minsan, pero marami namang mga players eh. Importante manalo (I'm just a coach. I'll play once in a while, but there are a lot of players. The important thing is we win).”
Kia Motors, a Korean car company with major sponsorships in sports like tennis and football, has been silent about its plans since its application for a new PBA franchise was accepted last month.
A planned press conference on Thursday by Kia at the NBA Cafe in SM Aura was also cancelled for unknown reasons.