Philippines, 18 Oct 2021
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ROACH ALLOWS PACQUIAO TO PLAY IN PBA OPENER


PhilBoxing.com




GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Impressed by the gains achieved by World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao in his initial preparations since pitching camp here for his coming fight with American challenger Chris Algieri, chief trainer Freddie has given his prized pupil permission to play for his Team Kia in the coming opening day of the PBA 40th Season on October 19 at the cavernous Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

"Yeah, he asked my permission to play in the opening day for the fans, so I told him I'll allow him to see action for only one minute," Roach told this writer kiddingly following a rigorous 12-round session Friday at the Pacman Gym here.

"What if he exceeds a minute?" the journalist queried that elicited a quick response:

"Well, I myself will take him out. I'm coming with him to Manila, sit on the team bench and act as the head coach with him as my assistant, "he said with wide ear-to-ear grin. "Nah, of course he can play as long as he wishes, if that's what it will take to make the fans happy.

I just told him to take care not to get injured.

"Any kind of injury that can postpone or completely cancel his fight can mean the end of his boxing career and all the years he's been in this profession of choice," Roach, who arrived here Wednesday with two Pacquiao's sparring partners -- welterweights San Martyniouk and Mike Jones -- reasoned out.

"I know how tough and sometimes rough basketball games here are and all I beg his would-be rivals is to please to take care of Manny. You can block his shots, steal the ball away, but please don't hurt him, if you, indeed, treasure him as your boxing icon," he pleaded.

"Like boxing, Manny's doing this not only for his passion for basketball, but to make basketball fans happy," he said. "Much as I don't want him to play, especially in this period of preparations for a coming fight, I jus t can't stop him completely. He loves basketball so much in the same way that he loves boxing, so I'm giving that to him."

The training Hall of Famer added though that he's allowing the eight-division world champion to play only in the opening day.

"The permit is only for the opening day. We had just shifted training to a higher level and I don't want that interrupted," he emphasized.

"Sparring sessions had just been started. The killer conditioning regimen will continue and that will already sap his energy."

The 54-year-old former fighter himself expressed satisfaction with the way Pacquiao has been responding to the tough grind he's been since he arrived.

"I was surprised really with the gains he had achieved. Buboy, Nonoy and Haplas (assistant trainers Buboy Fernandez, Nonoy Neri and Roger Fernandez) must have done their homework well while I was away," he said. "I would also like to thank Justin (Fortune, the conditioning coach) for a job well done."

"I think two more weeks here in the camp and Manny will be ready to fight," he assessed after the first sparring last Saturday-- a four-round scrimmage against the Martyniouk, a 5-foot-10 up-and-coming welterweight campaigner whose physical attribute resembles that of the junior-welterweight world belt-owner Algieri.

Except for his height though, Neri expressed doubt as to what Martyniouk can provide Parquiao. "Mabilis siya, pero malambot. Pinarusahan siya ni Manny at walang maisagot. Kala ko nga babagsak, naawa lang si Manny."

The Filipino ring idol is defending te 147-pound title for the first time since regaiming it from American Timothy Bradley last March. The Pacquiao-Algieri 12-round showdown is on November 23 at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Macau.

Photo: Pacquiao drives to the basket against Rich Alvarez during Kia Sorento's practice session at the Unilab Gym in Mandaluyong City. Photo by Wendell Rupert Alinea.



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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