DIGOS CITY – Whether they’ll be on the same team or play against him, just about everybody involved in the PBA Stalwarts vs. PBA Greats game are all looking forward to being on the same court with legendary boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.
Globalport veteran Willie Miller said he’d be more than glad to set up the eight-time world champion for his medium-range jumper if and when he and Pacquiao end up as teammates for PBA stalwarts.
“Papasahan ko siya ng papasahan ng bola kasi balita ko mabilis siya at di siya napapagod,” said Miller shortly after the press conference for this week’s All-Star festivities on Thursday held at the Davao del Sur Coliseum.
Miller, a two-time league MVP, spearheads PBA Stalwarts, a team composed of former and active PBA players.
Other than a great boxer bound for the Hall of Fame, Pacquiao is a known hoops fan who regularly plays the game. He used to own a basketball team, the MP Warriors of GenSan that saw action in Liga Pilipinas.
While nothing is at stake in the side event except for bragging rights, Miller is excited to be in the same team as the 34-year-old Pacquiao, whom he supports every time the boxing great has a fight.
"Kahit na minalas siya sa huling laban niya, naniniwala pa din ako na makakabawi siya (Pacquiao). Ang isang talo eh di naman mag-de-decide ng career niya sa boxing," Miller added, referring to Pacquiao's stinging sixth-round knockout loss to bitter rival Juan Manuel Marquez last December.
On the other hand, Meralco Fil-Am rookie Cliff Hodge said it would be one memorable experience to play once again with Pacquiao after playing with the global icon a few years back in Los Angeles.
"He's good (playing basketball) but he does it mostly for fun," said Hodge, the 6-foot-4 Bolts forward, who'll be taking part in Friday's slam-dunk contest.
Air21 guard Mike Cortez, for his part, said he’ll savor the experience of playing on the same floor with Pacquiao, but joked he will do his best to draw a charge from the 'Pacman.'
Cortez is one of two active point guards playing for the PBA Greats.
Aside from Miller, the PBA Stalwarts will have Chris Tiu, Ronald Tubid, Ronjay Burnafe, JC Intal, and Jervy Cruz, along with retired players Benjie Paras, Glenn Capacio, Dickie Bachman, Kenneth Duremdes, Art deal Cruz, and Topex Tobinson.
The PBA Greats, on the other hand, will have active players PJ Simon, Cortez, Mark Barroca, Hodge and Joe Devance along with retired players Jerry Codinera, Noli Locsin, Johnedel Cardel, Rodney Santos, Vince Hizon, and Bong Hawkins.