KIA assistant coach Glen Capacio admitted the presence of playing-coach Manny Pacquiao even just in practice can greatly boost the confidence of the team that is set to make its debut in the coming 40th season of the PBA.
Pacquiao hasn’t joined the team in training for close to a month now as he is preoccupied with the recent media tour he had in China and the US to promote his November 22 World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title fight against unbeaten American Chris Algeiri.
He immediately plunged into training in General Santos City upon his return.
Capacio said Kia players, mostly culled from the free agent market and from the rookie draft, are waiting for the next appearance of the legendary boxing champion in practice in the hope of drawing inspiration from him.
“Kapag nakikipag-laro siya (Pacquiao) sa mga players namin, maliliit na bagay 'yung pa-isa-isa niya kinakausap ang mga players,” said Capacio, whose team has compiled an even 2-2 win-loss record in the preseason.
“Talagang experience-wise wala pa kami, kasi ngayon lang sila (Kia players) nakakalaro ng ganito kasi yung iba, mga free agents or galing sa D-League.”
Capacio said he has yno idea when the 35-year-old Pacquiao will show up again FOR practice, though the team is not complaining as it is well-aware the Filipino boxing icon is now in the initial stage of his training camp for the Algieri fight.
“Sa naririnig ko, maglalaro daw siya sa (preseason game versus) Blackwater sa October 4, eh iyun ang inaabang-abangan namin, pati mga players ko, kasi siyempre. busy siya sa training at ayaw naman natin makasira sa training niya dahil crucial yang laban niya kay (Chris) Algieri,” explained the former PBA top defensive player.
In the absence of Pacquiao, Capacio tries to use the rise from obscurity of the eight-time world champion as a motivational tool for his players.
“Sinasabi naman niya lagi na magsipag lang at lagi niya kino-compare ang sarili niya, kasi di naman siya talented, pero narating niya ang tuktok at naging successful siya sa boksing dahil sa sipag. Iyun ang lagi niyang sine-share sa mga players,” he said.
“So sipagan lang talaga. Tingnan natin, baka makabulag.”
Kia, which will carry the monicker Sorento, beat Barangay Ginebra, 73-71 and the Kuwait national team, 70-67, in its first two games in the pre-season.
Then they dropped a 59-63 decision to Qatar over a week ago, before bowing to Rain or Shine, 87-92, on Tuesday after blowing a 13-point, third-quarter advantage.