IT seems Freddie Roach's plea to keep global boxing icon Manny Pacquiao away from harm on the basketball court has fallen on deaf ears.
Spin.ph has learned that when the eight-time world boxing champion makes his debut in the PBA on Sunday against the Blackwater Elite, enforcer Ogie Menor will have the task of defending the Kia playing-coach.
The former San Beda Red Lion has figured in a number of fights with Gary David, Sol Mercado, Paul Lee, Ryan Arana, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao and even former Meralco import Mario West in a career marked by a couple of summons from the Commissioner's Office.
Now he will has been handed the job of guarding Pacquiao, who will take a break from his training with Roach for the November fight against Chris Algieri to suit up in the match pitting the league's two newest teams - a fact confirmed by Blackwater coach Leo Isaac.
“Si Ogie ang mainly nilagay ko na bantay niya. The others are Chris Timberlake and Sunday Salvacion,” said. “OK naman na si Ogie, malaki na ang ipinagbago ng laro niyan since nalipat sa amin."
Isaac admitted Menor has the tendency to retaliate when hurt, but said it's all in the past now.
“Ganun talaga siya maglaro eh. Pero within the limits of the game 'yan. Wag lang siyang sasaktan, hindi rin mananakit yan,” said Isaac.
The former 2012 Foundation Cup champion coach in the D-League insisted that he doesn't believe that Pacquiao deserves special treatment on the PBA floor - or expects special treatment for that matter.
“Basta sabi ko nga sa iyo, regular game ang treatment namin kay Manny. Kung paano namin babantayan si Reil Cervantes at yung mga kakampi niya, ganun rin kami sa kanya,” he said.
“Pressure kami sa bola, matapat ang bola sa kanya, pe-pressurin namin siya,” added the former Ginebra guard.
Asked about Roach's plea ‘not to hurt Manny,' Isaac shook his head.
“Pwede ba 'yun (na hindi masasaktan)? Hindi pupuwede 'yun. Sinisiguro ko na hindi naman kami mananakit. Kaso hindi naman puwede na in action pipigilan mo sarili mo. Game of contact yan,” he said.
“Hindi mo magarantiya ang naghihintay sa iyo sa loob ng court,” added the former national player.
For his part, Menor vowed to apply pressure on Pacquiao.
“Try ko i-pressure para maagawan natin ng bola,” he said in between laughs. “Pero wala ako balak saktan siya o tirahin … magagalit sa atin ang sambayanang Pilipino.”
But if given a choice, Menor, who is a mixed martial arts practicioner, said he would rather not guard Pacquiao.
“Wag na. Ayaw kong ako magbantay. Mahirap na,” he said laughing.
Meanwhile, Blackwater team manager Johnson Martines has assured that Menor has showed maturity during his time with the team and is no longer as temperamental as he was before.
“Wala na. Malaki na ipinagbago niya. Kinausap rin kami ni Ogie bago siya nag-try out sa team dati na gusto na niyang magbago at ibalik yung dati niyang laro,” said Martines.