GILAS Philippinas was not the first Italian men’s basketball coach Gianmarco Pozceko asked for when Azuri arrived for the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday afternoon.
It was Manny Pacquiao.
“Where is Manny Pacquiao, Manny Pacquiao?” Pozceko, 50, popped up on his way out of the airport lobby.
“I want to fight him,” he added, with a big smile on his face, once transformed from a point guard to Ajouli’s coach.
I jokingly said, of course, that everything was the truth of the matter. Pozceko is now a big fan of the retired legendary Filipino boxer, and is the only player to win an eight-part world title.
“I love Manny Pacquiao,” he said.
Just as Pacquiao has overcome the possibility of becoming one of the greatest boxing players in history, Gilas Filipinas also holds an underdog status when he fights some of the world’s best teams at the World Cup, which officially opens this Friday.
The Philippine team is in Group A with the Dominican Republic, Angola, and yes, Italy.
Gillas will end his campaign at the group stage next Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, where he will face world No. 10 Pozceko and Ajuri.
Perhaps, Pacquiao can offer a helping hand by personally supporting Gilason.
And please meet Poseco up close.