The Annual Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) draft gives a chance for young hopefuls to be picked by a team in the oldest professional league in Asia. In a basketball-crazed country like the Philippines, being drafted in the PBA is the dream, second only to being drafted in the NBA.
This year will be a draft unlike any other. Apart from talented Fil-Foreign players and the familiar collegiate stars set to join the draft, one name stands above the rest: Manny Pacquiao, 35.
Yes, the same guy who won all those boxing titles, and who got voted into a seat in the Congress is actually throwing his name into the mix of aspiring draft applicants. Like you and me, he’s just doing what anyone would; chasing his dream. Unlike you and me though, he’s Manny Pacquiao. Everyone wants to be something, but only Pacman can be everything. Apart from the already mentioned accomplishments, he also has two albums that went platinum long before Anne Curtis ever sold out the Araneta Coliseum. Despite those, he apparently still has another dream to chase.
As absurd as it seems to see a middle-aged guy with average basketball skills get drafted into the first round of the PBA, we’re bound to see it happen this Sunday. One of the PBA’s newest teams, KIA, announced that Manny Pacquiao will be their head coach long before the draft, and would need to draft him if only to lock him up for their team.
It’s not the first time Manny dabbled into basketball, and his love for the sport has long been documented. From meeting the Boston Celtics to playing for his own team in a semi-professional league, we know that Manny knows his basketball. However, myself and countless other Filipino basketball fans who know our basketball respect the league enough to know that our skills are best suited for pickup games or office leagues at best. If we’re lucky, we could buy a team and join that same semi-professional league where Manny’s team played. But the PBA? We respect its legacy enough to let the best of the best be in the consideration.
As an athlete himself, Manny could probably be one of the most well-conditioned draftees; an attribute none of us basketball fans can match. Other than that, he’s got the backing of the whole nation who stop to watch his boxing matches whenever it’s on. These two things alone make the absurdity of drafting him a little easier to understand. They’re not getting a player who will get them a championship in one or two years; they’re picking a player who will be the face of their brand.
Ultimately, it won’t be Manny’s choice to actually get drafted. Actually, KIA will have their chance to pick Manny with the 11th pick in the draft, which means there are 10 other picks belonging to other teams that can mess up their plan.
Though I think Pacman aspiring to be drafted is just a little too much, he’s just being human by trying to reach for yet another one of his boyhood dreams because he can. Yet, as a basketball fan, I can only wish that the league keeps its integrity by drafting basketball players who made their lives revolve around basketball, and not someone who has treats this as a regular barangay league. Manny can still play for the team as a free agent signing if he doesn’t get drafted.
He’s a boxing legend, almost a part-time congressman because of his training schedule, a part-time singer who uses his own songs for his entrance music, and now he’ll be a playing head coach for a pro league. A little too much of everything he’s putting his name on, I think, is too much, even for a national hero like him.
The 2014PBA draft happens today, August 24, 4PM at the Midtown Atrium of Robinsons Place Manila.
Image by classical touch from Flickr.com.