FILIPINO boxing icon Manny Pacquiao’s appointment as Kia Motors head coach may have drawn flak from sports fans, but PBA legend Ramon Fernandez hopes people will give the boxing star the benefit of the doubt.
Fernandez cited his former coach in Toyota, Dante Silverio, as well as current San Mig coach Tim Cone as examples of coaches who - like Pacquiao - had no experience in big-time college basketball experience yet eventually became successful in the PBA.
“Our coach then Dante (SIlverio), never had an experience as a basketball player, but he was a student of the game,” the Cebu-based Fernandez told Spin.ph when he came to watch the PBA double-header on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 60-year-old Fernandez said Silverio studied the game with a passion, which was why he won five PBA titles and six runner-up trophies with Toyota from 1975 to 1979. Silverio, later on, returned to coach Shell in the late eighties, leading the team to a pair of runner-up finishes.
On the other hand, 'El Presidente' pointed out that Cone never became a star in college basketball before he was hired by Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu to handle the Milkmen in 1989.
“Second (example) that I can see is Tim Cone. I didn’t know of any experience that Tim had sa college basketball, but he was trusted by (Alaska owner) Fred Uytengsu, supported all the way, and look, he’s the (PBA's) winningest coach now,” he added.
Like Silverio and Cone, the "Pacman,' Fernandez said, deserves a chance to prove his worth as a head coach in the pro level.
“Let’s judge Cong Manny after several conferences,” he said.
Fernandez, a many-time national player and the the first to win four MVPs in the pro league, also briefly played the role of playing-coach with Purefoods - the same role Pacquiao now wants to play at Kia.
He's willing to give the eight-division world champion the benefit of the doubt, but admits he fears that a coaching career in the PBA may have dire effects on Pacquiao's boxing career.
“I just hope really huwag masira 'yung stature niya (Pacquiao) sa boxing. I don’t want him to lose (his boxing fights) because nawala concentration niya sa sport,” said the former Toyota star.
“But if he wants to try it (coaching), walang problema 'yun.”