BOXING great Manny Pacquiao has been a known Ginebra fan ever since.
But this is one rare time he hopes to see the Kings lose a game.
With KIA within reach of a playoff berth in the season-ending conference at stake, Pacquiao is keeping his fingers crossed for NLEX to beat Ginebra in the final elimination round game in order for the Carnival to make it to the next round for the first time in franchise history.
The scenario was made possible after Kia beat Meralo in the first game, 88-85. The inspiring win left the Carnival and Kings disputing the remaining quarterfinal berth.
A Ginebra victory over NLEX though, would mean outright elimination for Kia.
Understandably, Pacquiao is torn between his team and his boyhood idols.
“Bahala na siguro. Panginoon ang bahala dun,” he said.
“Pero syempre, Kia ang loyalty natin ngayon dahil ito ang team ko eh,” said Pacquiao, who even kidded about giving Asi Taulava and the rest of NLEX team a won-game bonus should they defeat Ginebra.
Bu the 36-year-old boxing legend expressed how grateful he was for the Ginebra fans who supported and cheered the Carnival in their game against the Bolts.
In a halftime interview with Spin.ph, Pacquiao admitted that other than what’s at stake in the game, he wanted to make Barangay Ginebra fans happy by showing up in a surprise appearance at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The eight-division world champion made no qualms about him being a diehard Ginebra fan back when he was still a struggling young boxer in General Santos City in the early 90s.
“Favorite team ko ang Ginebra noong araw. Solid tayo run,” said Pacquiao, who mentioned legendary Ginebra playing-coach Robert Jaworski Sr. and Bal David as among his favorites.
True to being generous, the Kia playing-coach promised to give the Carnival twice their won-game bonus if NLEX beats Ginebra.
“Magbibigay ako ng extra bonus. Double, magiging triple pa yan kung papasok tayo sa quarters,” said Pacquiao during the team huddle shortly after the game.
Turning to team manager Eric Pineda, he said, "Sabi ko sa kanila, ang bonus nila made-determine kung makakapasok tayo sa second round. Dodoblehin natin ang bonus nila for this game.”
And so before he left the Kia dugout, Pacquiao even let out a joke, saying, ‘O, kausapin na natin si Asi.’
But turning serious, the boxing icon said the won-game bonus his players received is apart from the mandatory dividend which Kia management gives for every win.
“Iba pa yung bonus na yun. Sa akin galing yun,” said Pacquiao smiling.
Here's the interview of Pacquiao inside the KIA dugout: