Manny Pacquiao will receive no special treatment on his first foray into professional basketball a rival player has vowed, as the Philippine boxer struggles with a hectic training schedule for both sports.
Beau Belga, a 1.95m Philippine Basketball Association bruiser, told Manila’s sports news Web site Spin.ph on Friday that he will be no walkover when 1.69m Pacquiao starts playing next month.
“I have no intention of hurting him, but I will play my normal game against him. I don’t have to change it just because he’s Manny Pacquiao,” the 27-year-old center-forward of the league’s Rain or Shine team added. “This is basketball. He won’t get an open shot or [be] allowed to drive past me.”
Pacquiao, 35, has won world boxing titles in eight different weight divisions and was drafted by expansion team Kia last month, even though he has no experience in high-level basketball.
He is known for playing intense pick-up games during breaks in training for bouts, and remains in top physical condition while enjoying a successful sunset to his career in the ring.
The boxer was hired as player and coach for Kia, who are to open their account on Oct. 19 in a league that has produced players of enough caliber to see the Philippines qualify for this year’s World Cup.
Kia face another expansion team on opening day, and are scheduled to play Rain or Shine later in the tournament.
Kia team manager Eric Pineda told Spin.ph the would-be pro-basketball star has been forced to skip much of the team’s training to fit in his boxing workouts.
“They [Kia] know they cannot compete for time with Manny’s boxing career. They know how important Manny’s next fight is,” Pineda added.
Belga, known by Filipino basketball fans as “Extra Rice” for his heft, told the Web site he had played against Pacquiao previously and suggested he was none too impressed.
“People are saying he has improved, probably because he was challenged by the fans’ criticism,” Belga said.
“He’s the rookie, I am the veteran,” he added.
Pacquiao, who is also an elected member of the Philippine parliament, is in training for the defence of his WBO welterweight title against undefeated American Chris Algieri in Macau in November.
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