COMMISSIONER Chito Narvasa's frank assessment of Manny Pacquiao's basketball skills, his role as Mahindra playing-coach and his impact on the league has drawn angry reactions from people close to the global sports icon who felt the PBA chief's comments were uncalled for.
Mahindra team consultant Joe Lipa was shocked to read about Narvasa's comments made prior to the PBA games in Dubai and carried by the Gulf News, saying the commissioner overstepped his bounds and put a member of the league family in a bad light.
The former national coach pointed out that the job of playing-coach was offered to Pacquiao by one of the PBA's member ballclubs and approved by the league.
“That’s something very shocking to come from a commissioner. One, (Pacquiao's appointment as Mahindra playing-coach )is a corporate decision and I am sure that there are valid reasons for them to get Manny Pacquiao,” said Lipa, shaking his head.
Explaining Pacquiao's absence from a pre-game press conference in Dubai, Narvasa pointed out that the eight-division world champion wears many hats but expressed hope that "he will be able to find out what he should be concentrating on very soon."
Touching on Pacquiao's foray into the PBA, Narvasa said, “Marketing-wise there’s no question, it’s brilliant, whoever thought of that is brilliant, he draws crowds and it’s tremendous, but in terms of basketball excellence, you know, he’s not really a basketball player, he’s a boxer.”
Lipa, a former commissioner of the UAAP, said matters raised by Narvasa are for Pacquiao and Mahindra to decide on - and not by anyone else.
“Manny is an ultimate athlete. And besides, he should not question the priorities of Manny Pacquiao,” he said. “It (Pacquiao’s schedule) is for Manny to decide. He knows his schedule, he knows what he will do.
“An athlete is an athlete and I am sure Manny could say a thing or two about the attitude of an athlete. Basketball coaching could be X and O’s, but coaching is not only limited to X and O's, there are a lot to consider like your physical, leadership and motivational ability,” he said.
Lipa said Narvasa should focus on improving the games and not meddle in the decisions of the teams.
“Ang sinabi nyang rason is concerned siya about the PBA, but everybody’s concerned about the PBA. Masakit sa KIA yun, kasi ako I myself am hurt. I think all the things he said, Manny Pacquiao knows it (already) and he is the only person who should decide on that,” said Lipa.
“I think I’ve got to polish the script of his job description. As a commissioner, he should just be concerned about the games,” said Lipa.
Bien Orillo, team manager of the Pacquiao-backed Powervit Philippine Aguilas, also expressed surprise over Narvasa's comments, especially after the ABL team's bid to have the 'Pacman' suit up for the Aguilas was denied by the PBA.
“Bakit ganun? Samantalang last time, sabi nila hindi pwede lumaro sa amin sa ABL si Manny dahil nasa PBA siya. Bigla ngayon ganyan kasakit ang sasabihin niya sa tao. Fair ba yun?” said Orillo.
Narvasa's statement also did not sit well with former PBA forward and Pacquiao’s close friend Zaldy Realubit
“Dapat kung may isyu siya kay Manny, hindi niya sinabi in public. Alam ko opinion niya 'yun, pero kaso, commissioner ka ng PBA, sasabihin mo 'yun sa isang player ng PBA?” said Realubit.
“May nagreklamo na ba sa kanya na player? May sinaktan ba si Manny? Nirerespeto ko opinion niya, pero sana nagtanong na muna siya sa mga player ng Mahindra, kung nasasaklawan na ba sila ni Manny. Kaso hindi eh, mas gusto ng players na andun si Manny. At yun ang hindi alam ni Narvasa,” said Realubit, who is now the head coach of the Aguilas in the ABL.
Meanwhile, Spin.ph columnist and well-known boxing analyst Ed Tolentino said the matters raised by Narvasa in Dubai should have been discussed privately with Mahindra management.
“Commissioner Narvasa might just be trying to imply and he wants to make it known to the fans na, ‘Naririnig ko kayo lalo sa inyong criticism kay Manny Pacquiao playing in the PBA,’ it is a constructive announcement, kaso ang daming varying interpretations ngayon ng tao,” said Tolentino.
“Sana kinausap niya muna 'yung management ng Mahindra in private. Kasi lumalabas, sinuportahan ni Narvasa ang subtle criticism ng tao (kay Pacquiao). Kaya nga may representative to the board yan eh. 'Yun muna sana ang kinausap niya at ipinaabot yung epekto ni Pacquiao, kung may negative man, kesa sa lumabas siya in public with that statement,” said Tolentino.