HE missed a lot more shots than he made during one of Kia Motors' tryouts this week, but Manny Pacquiao isn't too worried.
Spin.ph on Tuesday caught up with the fighting congressman of Sarangani doing some shooting drills, though he missed majority of his shots from beyond the arc.
The global boxing icon, however, said he has yet to get into the flow of the game at the moment since he is more focused on his role as coach for one of three PBA expansion teams debuting next season.
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As player coach, the 35-year-old Pacman said his immediate task is to put together a team competitive enough to hold its own against some of the league's established ballclubs.
“Wala pa tayo dun, bubuo muna tayo ng team,” said the eight-time boxing champion.
The eight-division world champion, just months removed from his latest ring conquest against Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas, also assured that he will be just fine once he gets his basketball rhythm back.
“Pangalawang day pa lang naman (ng practice) pero pag na-condition na, okay na tayo,” he said with a smile.
Pacquiao's bid to be the playing-coach of Kia remains up in the air, however, as the boxing champ, just like the rest of the rookie aspirants, is required to join the annual draft on August 24.
Kia Motors and the two other expansion teams, Blackwater Sports and NLEX, won’t be drafting until the 11th to 13th picks and several teams have already expressed intention to pick Pacquiao if they have a chance, considering the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion is the most popular Filipino athlete today.
To solve this problem, Pacquiao and officials of Kia Motors are set to seek an audience with commissioner Chito Salud possibly by Monday to ask for an advice on how the boxing star can be directly tapped by the Columbia Autocar Corporation-owned franchise as a player.
Longtime Pacquiao business adviser and now Kia Motors team manager Eric Pineda bared to Spin.ph the Pacman is trying to find time for his first visit at the PBA office in Libis.
“May mga commitments pa si congressman, but alam niya na kung malilibre siya, pupunta talaga kami,” said Pineda. “We will really ask for a special concession so he can play for the team."
Meanwhile, Pineda admitted Kia may be the reason on why the PBA board’s decision not to allow all three expansion teams, including Blackwater Sports and NLEX, to have direct hire players.
“May valid reason naman sila eh, Kia is the only team (among the new ballclubs) that has no basketball team in other leagues, not like NLEX or Blackwater Sports na may D-League teams,” Pineda said.
“Yung dalawa kasi can just pick up any players from their teams. So kung talagang wala nang draft para sa aming expansion teams, lugi talaga kami,” he added.
But Pineda stressed should the board allow Kia to directly hire Pacquiao, the franchise will not oppose whatever concessions the league is going to give to the two other new teams.
It was a different concern, however, for Kia assistant coach Louie Gonzales, who admitted the coaching staff is finding it hard to come up with a competitive lineup.
“Hirap talaga kami mag-buo ng team kasi there are rules given and we have to abide by it. May mga gusto kaming players, pero hanggang gusto lang,” said Gonzales, former head coach of the Feati men’s basketball team in the Inter-Scholastic Athletic Association.
“Hindi kasi kami makagalaw ng maayos kasi hindi kami agad makapili ng players dahil we really have to wait for the dispersal draft,” he added.
Gonzales said the team can only list down the names of prospective draftees who impressed them during the two-day tryouts as all three expansion teams are not yet allowed to hire personnel until the July 21 dispersal draft.
“Medyo unfair talaga kasi `yung mga dating expansion teams, napayagan na kumuha ng players directly. Pero sabi ko nga, naiintindihan namin kasi may valid reason din ang board,” Gonzales said.
“Pakiramdam namin talaga, kami lang ang pino-protektahan (ng PBA) kasi nga 'yung dalawang kasabay namin eh parehong may amateur teams. Kami walang wala,” he said.
Gonzales is just one of the assistant coaches expected to come on board and help Pacquiao as he makes his highly-anticipated coaching stint in Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league which kicks off its 40th season on October 21.
Aside from Gonzales, other prospective members of the Kia Motors coaching staff are Glenn Capacio, who’s set to be released by Globalport at the end of his contract in August, Rob Wainwright, Chito Victolero, Aldin Ayo, and Marlon Martin.