ONLY a sparse crowd was on hand to send off the country’s most beloved son.
The Arena in San Juan was hardly filled to the rafters as boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao called the shots for KIA Motors in its PBA Commissioner’s Cup game against Blackwater on Saturday.
The match, won by the Elite, 115-104, was supposed to serve as the farewell party for the 36-year-old playing coach as he left for the US late Saturday night to begin his buildup for his May 2 welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
And to give fans the chance to see Pacquiao one final time before his departure, the league opened the bleachers section for free to fans on a first-come, first-serve basis.
But only a handful showed up for the game, in which the ‘Pacman’ originally planned to play but later decided to coach at the sidelines.
A league executive who refused to be named estimated the crowd to be at 6,000, although the actual figure is obviously a couple of thousands lower.
The Arena has a seating capacity of between 5,000 to 8,000, and empty seats dotted the venue during the lone game.
Expectations were high going to the match as KIA Motors was on a two-game winning streak following its upset of powerhouse teams Purefoods, the reigning conference champion, and Talk ‘N Text.
But the Elite spoiled the celebration by dominating the Carnival from beginning to end, leaving Pacquiao a bit disappointed inside the team dugout shortly after the match.
“Very sad,” was all he said after emerging from the KIA dressing room before leaving the playing venue in a huff accompanied by huge entourage.