PBA commissioner on Pacquiao: ‘He's not a basketball player, he’s a boxer’
MANILA, Philippines – First-year PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa spoke of his perspective on Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao being part of the pro basketball league as a playing coach for second-year team Mahindra Enforcers.
Narvasa attempted to defend the 36-year old from media in Dubai who criticized Pacquiao’s no-show during a press conference ahead of the PBA games held there on November 6 and 7. But the commissioner, who said Pacquiao missed the conference because he was “feeling under the weather,” ended up admitting that a very busy Pacquiao should “find out what he should be concentrating on very soon.”
“You have to understand that Mr. Pacquiao is a personality in himself, he has many engagements, and first of all he is not a basketball player, he is a boxer,” Narvasa was quoted as saying in a report from Gulf News on Friday, November 6.
“Again his many responsibilities, not only as a sports icon but also a lawmaker prevent him [from] going full-time into one activity, and the PBA understands the situation, but hopefully, eventually, he will be able to find out what he should be concentrating on very soon.”
Narvasa still commended Pacquiao for being able to juggle the many hats he wears including his roles as a Congressman of Sarangani, a celebrity, and as a professional boxer. The former pound-for-pound king will be even busier in the coming months as he endeavors to claim a seat at the Senate. The elections are set to take place next year.
Narvasa also admitted there are “pros and cons” to Pacquiao joining the PBA.
“Well, to me as a commissioner, there are pros and cons. First of all he brings a lot of variety, Manny is a sports icon in himself and whether he goes into the PBA or not he will draw crowds, but the whole concentration of the PBA has to be basketball excellence,” he explained.
“That’s where I put myself in. I have to look at the interests of the PBA in excelling in basketball. If him coming into the team helps Mahindra do that then of course we have to show him support and if it does not then I think it could also be detrimental in the long term.”
Pacquiao was named head coach of Mahindra (then KIA) in June 2014 and has since been on the roster after he was drafted 11th overall by his own team that same year.
Pacquiao has appeared in a total of 6 games since last season, including Mahindra’s Dubai contest against Alaska on Friday, November 6, where he played for 7 minutes and missed all 4 of his field goal attempts which included a couple of 3-pointers.
“Marketing-wise there’s no question, it’s brilliant, whoever thought of that is brilliant, he draws crowds and it’s tremendous, but in terms of basketball excellence you know he’s not really a basketball player, he’s a boxer,” Narvasa stressed.
In Pacquiao’s absence on the sidelines, it has been assistant coach Chito Victolero leading the Enforcers.
Pacquiao has long been widely criticized for his involvement in the PBA – the most notorious instance involved former PBA import Daniel Orton, who went on a rant after an unexpected loss to Pacquiao’s team last February.
“Professional boxer, yeah okay. Congressman, alright. Professional basketball player? No. It’s a joke,” he told a small group of reporters then. (READ: Orton fined P250,000 for ‘disrespectful’ Pacquiao, ref comments)
Former league commissioner and now PBA President and CEO Chito Salud defended Pacquiao last year.
“I want to emphasize that Manny is the embodiment of what the PBA is striving to stand for," Salud explained.
"And what is that? Highest degree of excellence and sportsmanship with regard to fan and public interest."
Pacquiao is known to play basketball during his trainings before fights. His last bout saw him lose to Floyd Mayweather Jr via unanimous decision in a heavily-hyped event last May. – Rappler.com