DESPITE being in the middle of training for his upcoming defense of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt against American Chris Algeiri, boxing star Manny Pacquiao has promised not only to show up but to play during the opening of the PBA’s 40th season on Sunday at the Philippine Arena.
The legendary ring icon made the assurance to no less than league commissioner Chito Salud during a conversation the two had on Sunday in Davao.
“Manny Pacquiao gave me a call and he said, ‘Yes, I will be there and will play at least two to three minutes,'" Salud said as he recalled his talk with the 35-year-old Pacquiao during Tuesday’s press conference at the Edsa Shangrila Hotel ushering in the new season of the league.
Pacquiao played his first game in the league during a preseason match against Blackwater, which Kia Motors lost, 88-77, last Saturday in Binan, Laguna.
The only eight-time world boxing champion played for 10 minutes and scored a single point, had a rebound, and committed two turnovers.
Pacquiao, who signed up as playing-coach of the Sorentos for three years, admitted to Salud that he enjoyed his first game in the league.
“He was very happy to have played kaya sabi niya maglalaro siya on opening day,” said Salud. “Actually, Manny Pacquiao is just fulfilling his dream of playing in the PBA. And his presence certainly adds flavor to the league. A lot of fans are excited to see him play.”
Kia Motors battles Blackwater during the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader in a rematch of their preseason game. Barangay Ginebra then tests the mettle of Talk `N Text in the main game at 5:15 p.m.
Salud however, has one major request for Pacquiao once he starts playing.
“Please do not get injured,” said the commissioner, well aware that Paquiao is simultaneously training for his November 22 title match against the unbeaten Algeiri at the Cotai Arena in Macau.