DAVAO CITY - Three years ago, global boxing icon Manny Pacquiao said he had a dream which the preacher in him saw as a sign.
In that dream which Pacquiao vividly remembers to this day, the fighting congressman was competing fiercely not inside a square ring but on a basketball court.
He narrated how he was dunking over people and dominating opponents on the court.
“Nagda-dunk ako, umiiskor. Basta naalala ko lang maraming tao ang nanood,” the eight-division world champion narrated to Spin.ph in a light moment in Davao City last week after playing basketball for his team MP Hotel.
“Ngayon ko naisip na 'yun pala ang ibig sabihin nun. Ito na pala 'yun,” said the Sarangani representative over dinner hosted by his good friend Glenn Escandor, president of The Royal Mandaya Hotel.
On Sunday, Pacquiao became a two-sport professional athlete after he was picked 11th overall in the 2014 PBA Annual Rookie Draft by Kia Motors at the Robinsons Place in Ermita, Manila.
That means Pacquiao will be not only be coaching Kia but will also be playing for the expansion ballclub as the oldest rookie in the pro league's 40-year history at 35.
However, questions continue to persist on his ability to play at the PBA level, with his coming stint in the pro league becoming fodder for ridicule online.
Pacquiao’s friends in Davao, where he has played in two tournaments, believe otherwise.
“He should be No. 1. For me, he is No. 1 pick material if I am a team owner. Advertising, marketing and publicity-wise, Manny can easily make an impact on a team by his mere presence,” said Escandor after learning of Pacquiao’s selection.
"As a player, you cannot underestimate him. He can shoot and he is a fierce competitor. To Manny, I wish him well and I am happy his dream finally came true."
Pacquiao played for Escandor’s team last year in a pocket tournament in Davao. His teammates included future top PBA draft selections Greg Slaughter and Ian Sangalang.
“Manny is a welcome addition to the PBA family. His entry in the league creates global interest in the PBA. With Manny playing, everyone in the world would follow how he performs as a basketball player,” Escandor said.
Bong Go, executive assistant of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and a friend of Pacquiao, said Pacquiao is bound to bring more excitement to the league.
“As expected, Kia’s first pick. I’m excited to see him play his first professional ballgame and I’m sure he will bring more excitement to the league,” Go said.