We’ve already knew about Manny Pacquiao as the greatest boxer of all time.
Outside of his native Philippines, there was not much about PacMan’s serious intentions to play hoops professionally up until eight years ago, with most of his highlights back then being from its pick-up games to pass time. Moreso, he used basketball as part of his training regimen before his fights for fitness reasons, which is why it contributed to his killer footwork in the ring.
Now we look at how his career went on the court.
A see-saw ride in the PBA
It was in 2014 where it all began, as the expansion Kia franchise appointed the fabled boxer to be its inaugural head coach. However, it doesn’t end there, as Pacquiao was selected as the 11th overall pick in the draft effectively giving him the dual role as a playing coach.
His debut came on the opening day of the 2014-15 season against Blackwater at the Philippine Arena, as he became the oldest debutant at the age of 35. Pacquiao played just three more games and scored just a point.
The following season (2015-16) proved to be more efficient than his rookie season, in which he scored a field goal in two of those games, notching a career high of four points when the now-named Mahindra defeated the same Blackwater side.
Pacquiao then played one more game in the 2016-17 season to close out his career.
Founding a basketball league of their own
With his pro career ended, Pacquiao then used his PBA experience to create the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League in 2018, that started with 10 teams as Batangas won the inaugural Rajah Cup.
The MPBL had a regional format that became an instant hit, as it became nationwide on its sophomore season by expanding to 26 teams on its Datu Cup campaign, which was won by San Juan.
After surviving the pandemic hit Lakan season of 2019-20, the league held the Invitational tournament in 2021 to resume activities, in which they opened the Mumbaki Cup campaign in 2022.
While Pacquiao founded and lead the league, the overseeing of gameday operations was entrusted to PBA legend Kenneth Duremdes, who serves as its league’s commissioner. Apart from that, he enjoys playing in exhibition games when the league went on an overseas tour, in which he even scored 42 points in Dubai three years ago.
Manny Pacquiao proved his worth on the ring, but to go out of his comfort zone and living the dream is another. It showed his multi-tasking skills, where it erased any doubts that basketball became a distraction rather than his recreation.