By Dennis Principe
ONE of the Philippines' leading car dealers has officially appointed multi-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao as its first-ever basketball head coach when they make their debut in Asia's first play-for-pay league.
At a press conference held at the Pacific Star building in Makati City, Columbian Autocar Corporation (CAC), the Philippine distributor of Korean car manufacturer KIA, introduced Pacquiao as their head tactician when they make their maiden campaign in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) next season.
"This is going to be a huge responsibility but I am very happy. I need to prove that I can excel in basketball especially as head coach of the team,"said Pacquiao "It's KIA's first time to enter the league so we won't fail you. All basketball fans should look forward to our brand of plays," said Pacquiao.
During the press conference, CAC chairman Jose Chavez Alvarez gave Pacquiao the team's official red jacket and cap where the term "Head Coach" is emblazoned.
Joining Pacquiao and Alvarez at the table is league commissioner Chito Salud who himself expressed his excitement in seeing the pound-for-pound king enter the league.
"There were comments and concerns regarding the possibility of Manny Pacquiao joining the PBA. Many of them have been genuinly to protect our national treasure," said Salud "What we're missing here are the things that Manny brings - the wow factor, the pulling power."
Pacquiao meantime refused to divulge his plan about playing for the team after he initially stated that he wants to act as the ballclub's playing coach.
"I'll just focus on forming the team. Right now I cannot answer questions about playing for the team,"said Pacquiao.
A few weeks ago Pacquiao held tryouts for aspiring players at the Sta. Lucia gym where a good number of PBA discards as well as undrafted and unsigned rookies showed up.
KIA is one of three new franchises in the PBA that will join ten other existing ballclubs in the 40-year-old league.
KIA, together with NLEX and Blackwater Sports will be the last three teams to pick in the upcoming Rookie Draft scheduled in August.
Before that, the three new teams will pick from a pool of players which will not be included in every existing team's ten protected names.
Under the scheme, each team will be asked to name 10 of their current players who will not be included in the dispersal draft.
A PBA team usually keeps 14 players under contract, thereby making the league's newest members battle for crumbs.
But Pacquiao is unperturbed with the task ahead.
"I know we won't be able to get the best players but we will do our best in training. All our aspirants better be ready," said Pacquiao.