Don’t Diss Pacquiao’s Hoops
February 25, 2015
For two decades Manny Pacquiao has excelled in a sport requiring mental and physical toughness, and when not punishing opponents in the ring he loves to relax playing basketball. He’s played the game all his life and does so fairly well. If no one’s near his five-six, short-armed frame, he can hit an unorthodox, two-handed set shot launched behind his head. He can also drive to his left and finish inside with hooks and scoop shots. He’s a willing passer but frequently dribbles behind his back, rarely improving his position and often turning the ball over. On defense he’s too short to trouble most shooting opponents. He’s good to have in a pickup game comprised of guys who couldn’t start on most varsity high school teams.
That’s a fair scouting report of Manny and the reason it’s inappropriate for him to be on the floor in any professional league in the world. That includes the Philippine Basketball Association. Daniel Orton agrees with this assessment. He’s six-ten, two-seventy-five, and played for the University of Kentucky and three NBA teams. Until recently he performed in the PBA but lost his job when he publicly said Manny’s a great boxer, but pro hoops, come on. (The champ has played limited minutes in four games and totaled one point.) Manny is not merely a national deity and congressman – the terms, at present, are not mutually exclusive – he owns a pro team, Kia Carnival. Fellow owners and league officials were outraged by Orton’s impudence, which would be “like someone insulting the name of Martin Luther King,” and not merely canned the cager, they fined him about fifty-six-hundred dollars. That seems rather sensitive. Imagine if Floyd Mayweather bought an NBA team and gave himself some minutes. Would players who objected be fired?
The Manny-hoops-flare-up points to a larger problem in basketball in the Philippines, where fans are said to be in love with the sport. But are they really? They have one pro season from which all foreigners are banned, and another that permits a solitary foreigner per team as long as the fellow doesn’t exceed a certain height that changes year to year. This timidity and xenophobia have limited basketball development in the archipelago and are major reasons the Philippines hasn’t qualified for the Olympics in more than forty years and why its national team perennially performs poorly in the Asian basketball championships.
Manny Pacquiao doubtless does not want recreational boxers standing in front of him when the bell rings. He should therefore be consistent and stop using his status to force pro basketball players to tolerate a pickup-game celebrity in the big league.