A ‘MISSING sign’ is about to be posted outside the Kia Carnival dugout.
It’s been more than a month since playing-coach Manny Pacquiao showed up for a KIA game in the PBA Governors Cup against crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra right on the same day he arrived from the US following his mega-bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Since then, the 36-year-old boxing legend was nowhere been sight on the Kia Bench, including Wednesday night’s 94-90 loss to Rain or Shine. He also hasn't been showing up for KIA practices.
So where exactly is the flamboyant ring champion?
Team consultant Joe Lipa dispelled rumors Pacquiao is no longer part of the team, stressing the eight-time division world champion is just taking time to recuperate from his right shoulder injury.
Pacquiao underwent surgery on the injured shoulder four days after aggravating it during his unanimous decision loss to Mayweather in their welterweight showdown last May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“He’s undergoing therapy on his shoulders. And he is also busy with his job in Congress. He’s in Gensan,” said Lipa.
“He’s still the head coach of the team. He motivates and he gives instructions on what to do through the managers,” added the former national coach.
Lipa stressed Pacquiao would normally call his assistants on the phone to provide inputs during Kia games.
“Nanonood si Manny sa lahat ng games namin sa TV then during halftime he will call his managers to relay his message to the coaching staff,” said the only coach to steer University of the Philippines to a UAAP championship in 1986.
For his part, Kia governor Ginia Domingo told Spin.ph that Pacquiao was been given consent by management to take a rest and recover from his surgery.
“Yes, we gave him time to recover. Everybody knows he’s injured. Syempre, priority natin yung health niya. We will need him sa team and sa boxing most especially,” said Domingo.
KIA team manager Eric Pineda admitted Pacquiao is still bothered by his painful shoulder, which was again aggravated the last time he joined the team during Kia’s game against Ginebra.
“Na-istress kasi masyado yung balikat sa game. Kasi pag nasa game, hindi mo maiiwasan na igalaw. Yung mga kilos na yun, masakit eh,” said Pineda.
Asked if there is anything wrong between Pacquiao and Kia, Pineda quickly shook his head.
“Hindi totoo 'yun, otherwise kung may problema si Manny sa management ng KIA, eh di sana wala na rin kami rito,” he said.
The Kia official likewise hinted, that should Pacquiao makes a comeback, it may already be next season.
“Baka next season na. Kasi kailangan niya talagang tutukan yung recovery ng balikat niya eh. Yun ang importante ngayon,” he said.
But even before he took a leave of absence, Pineda disclosed Pacquiao has not been remiss in his obligations to the team.
Not only does the boxing icon provide game inputs to the Carnival, but the generous Filipino billionaire also digs into his own pocket to give bonuses to the players for every game won.
“Apart from the won-game bonus na binibigay ng management, which is around P6,000 per win, Manny also hands over his bonus to the team,” said the longtime Team Pacquiao official.
“Naibigay na lahat ng bonus,” added a smiling Pineda without elaborating
Asked how much does Pacquiao give to his players, Pineda responded with an mysterious smile.
“Basta, mas malaki,” he said.