MONSOON rains brought about by tropical storm Mario forced the cancellation of the 2 p.m. tune-up match between Rain or Shine and Kia Motors at the Nega gym in Greenhills, a game where boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao was supposed to play for the Sorento.
One of those disappointed not to see the match push through was Beau Belga.
The 35-year-old Pacquiao was supposed to fly to Manila on Friday morning from General Santos City, but opted not to push through with the trip due to bad weather, according to Kia team manager Eric Pineda.
“Papunta na sana siya ngayon dito sa Manila. Kaso ang lakas ng ulan eh. Hindi na siya lumipad,” said Pineda.
The cancellation denied Belga a chance to size up the boxing icon ahead of his much talked about PBA debut as Kia playing coach. Rain or Shine's 'Extra Rice' big man had played with Pacquiao before, but not since he bared his intention to play in the pro league.
"Nakakalaro laro ko rin siya kasi dati. Pero marami nagsabi na nag-improve daw siya kasi nacha-challenge siguro sa kritisismo ng fans,” said Belga, aware of the feeling most basketball fans have about multitasking Pacquiao's decision to invade the basketball world.
“Sana matuloy next week. Kasi gusto ko rin makalaro si Manny ulit. Lalo na yun talagang full-pledged PBA player na siya. Nung nakalaban ko kasi siya, pick-up game lang,” he added.
The rugged Belga was quick to stress he won't treat the eight-division world champion any differently from any other PBA player.
“Basketball yan alangan namang pabayaan mo lang siya tumira o sumalaksak sa harap mo. Siya ang rookie, ako ang beterano. Hindi ako matatakot na laruin ang laro ko sa kanya,” said the Rain or shine banger.
“Wala akong intensyon na saktan siya, pero kung ano 'yung laro ko, yun ang ihaharap ko sa kanya. Hindi ko naman pwedeng baguhin yun kasi Manny Pacquiao siya,” added the 250-pound pride of Gubat, Sorsogon.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao is expected to stay in General Santos for the next two weeks to train for his coming World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title fight against undefeated American Chris Algieri on November 22.
He will most likely make his preseason debut in Kia's game against fellow expansion side Blackwater on October 4.
“Malamang mag stay na talaga siya (Pacquiao) dun sa GenSan hanggang October 4,” added Pineda.
Pineda said Pacquiao’s constant absence in the daily practices of Kia Motors already has the consent of Columbian Autocar Corporation management.
“Alam naman nila `yun and hindi sila makikipag-agawan ng oras sa boxing career ni Manny. They know how important Manny’s next fight is,” said the Kia team manager.
Even Columbian Autocar Corporation president Ginia Domingo earlier made it clear that Pacquiao’s boxing career will take precedence over his basketball job with Kia.
“Yes, yun (boxing) pa rin naman ang priority namin para kay Manny. He is our national treasure, his success in boxing is not just the success of Kia, but of the whole country,” said the amiable car executive.