BOB Arum loves Manny Pacquaio the boxer, but detests Manny Pacquiao the basketball player.
The Top Rank promoter aired his concern about Pacquiao playing his first game as playing coach of expansion team Kia Motors during the inaugural of the PBA’s 40th season while in the midst of training camp for his coming defense of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt against American Chris Algieri.
The possibility that the 35-year-old rookie player may have suffered an injury when he suited up for the Sorentos in last Sunday’s game against Blackwater was what worried Arum, basketball being a very physical sport, according to the 80-year-old boxing veteran.
“Well, I found out that he was playing before he played and I was not a very happy camper. Professional basketball, no matter the country where it is played, is a rugged sport and a player can turn an ankle very, very easily,” said Arum during the conference call he did from Pacquiao’s training camp in General Santos City during the scheduled media day on Friday.
“These players in the NBA are fantastic physical specimens and yet they get injured all the time. An injury would have really wreaked havoc on the fight so I was not very pleased,” added Arum, who was joined in the discussion by Pacquiao himself and trainer Freddie Roach.
But except for that game against Blackwater, the Filipino ring icon vowed not to play ball again until after his November 23 fight against the unbeaten Algieri in Macau, adding his focus is now solely on the title match with still a good four weeks to get in tip-top shape.
“Right now I am focused on my training. After the fight, I will come back and be focused on coaching the team,” said the Pacman.
Pacquiao stressed he only played briefly during his PBA debut, witnessed by a crowd of 52, 615 at the newly-built Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
More importantly, Kia won the match, 80-66, after fighting back from as much as a 13-point first half deficit.
“It was a good experience to play in a professional basketball game like that. I didn’t play long, I just wanted to help my team and that’s why I played. Professional basketball in the Philippines is very competitive and more importantly, we won the first game,” said the eight-time world division champion.
Pacquiao added, “I felt very excited and a little nervous because it was the first game and there were over 52,000 fans.”
At the same time, the reigning world welterweight champion said basketball has always helped him cross train while preparing for a title fight.
“I am enjoying boxing, but my favorite sport outside of boxing is basketball. That’s why I go to the basketball court – my cross training is basketball to keep in shape between fights. I also like basketball,” he said.
Although still livid with the great career risk the boxing superstar had taken, the Pacquiao's assurance that he won't play again until after the Algieri fight was enough to appease Arum.
“Manny has assured me and Freddie has assured me that that’s it,” said the Top Rank chairman. “After he does the fight, if he wants to try out for the New York Knicks, that’s OK with me.”