MANILA, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao watched the Mahindra Enforcer live for the first time since letting go of his position as the team’s playing coach and he liked what he saw.
The Filipino boxing icon and newly elected senator was courtside for Mahindra’s game against the San Miguel Beermen Wednesday, July 27, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
He witnessed the second-year squad outlast the defending champions, 105-103, thanks to the combined late-game heroics of Paolo Taha and Chito Jaime.
“Maganda ‘tong team ng Mahindra ngayon dahil ‘yung mga players nakikinig sa lahat ng mga coaches, ‘yung mga instruction,” said Pacquiao, who played a total of just 39 minutes in 6 games in the PBA, and has made only one of his 13 total field goal attempts.
“At yung mga hard work na ginagawa sa training sinusunod nila. Nagbunga naman.”
(This team now is good because the players really listen to the coaches, to the instructions. They follow through with the hard work they put in during training. It’s paying off now.)
Mahindra is now handled by rookie coach Chris Gavina.
Pacquiao was, for the most part, absent for games during his time as playing coach, and it was his assistant coaches such as Chito Victolero who manned the sidelines for Mahindra. But whenever he was present, he’d always have an inspiring message or two for his players.
He cascaded one of those messages again Wednesday at halftime, telling the men to stay focused at all costs. The message came in handy when San Miguel came roaring back from a 12-point deficit in the fourth and Mahindra’s resolve was challenged.
Pacquiao said he watched to support his former team and is willing to watch more games as long as it does not clash with his new job as a lawmaker.
He was also impressed by 23-year-old import James White, who is the youngest reinforcement this conference.
“Gamit na gamit. Magaling,” Pacquiao said of the athletic White. “May talon, may jump shot, outside shooting.”
(He’s given a lot of playing time. He’s good. He can jump, he has a jump shot and outside shooting.)
White, who finished with 34 points and 11 rebounds, is a boxing fan himself and shared how he previously met Pacquiao.
“I met Manny at practice, he shared a lot of wisdom to me. He’s one of the greatest boxers of all time, just learning from him is the best,” White said, adding he saw some of Pacquiao’s fights including the one against Ricky Hatton and the last one versus Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“The one that’s coming up now, I think I’m going to watch that whoever he fights. I’m going to support him a lot. I would love to see him knock them out too.”
Though White saw much of Pacquiao in the ring, he has yet to see the boxer on the court. For now, he’s settling for secondhand stories.
“I never saw him play but I heard he got skills though.” – Rappler.com