Dubai: Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Chito Narvasa has hinted that boxer Manny Pacquiao’s time in professional basketball may be coming to an end.
Narvasa was speaking at a press conference to preview this weekend’s PBA Philippines Cup games in Dubai, which Mahindra Enforcers point guard Pacquiao failed to attend because he was “feeling under the weather”.
Pacman’s no show prompted criticism from press, leaving Narvasa to fend for the 36-year-old former eight division world boxing champion. But the way in which Narvasa phrased his defence left no doubt as to how he truly felt about the star’s involvement in basketball.
“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,” said Narvasa of Pacquiao, who has scored just three points in five appearances totaling 32 minutes since being drafted as the PBA’s record oldest rookie in October 2014.
“Apparently his interest in basketball led him to the PBA and whatever time he has given, he has managed very well with the PBA, so I think that recognition should also be given to him.
“Again his many responsibilities, not only as a sports icon but also a lawmaker,” – he added in reference to Pacquiao the boxer and congressman – “prevent him 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.”
Asked what he made of Pacquiao’s switch into basketball, Narvasa replied: “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.
“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.
“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.”
Asked if he had reservations about Pacquiao playing basketball, Narvasa added: “No, I think they’ve managed to regulate his playing time and there’s definitely a lot of interest when he plays.”
This brutally honest assessment of the Filipino boxer’s basketball skills follows the sacking of former Purefoods Star Hotshot centre Daniel Orton for saying Pacquiao’s attempt to move into basketball was “a joke”.
“Professional boxer, yeah OK. Congressman, alright. Professional basketball player? No. It’s a joke. Seriously, it’s a joke," he said.