Where will Kia Motors coach Manny Pacquiao be asked to sit during the PBA Rookie Draft three weeks from now? At the elegant round table in the company of team management and his assistants in the middle of Robinsons Place, Ermita? Or at the pressure-cooker designated area with the rest of the jittery player wannabes?
“I think we will give him the prerogative to choose where,” said PBA media bureau chief Willy Marcial. “Palagay ko di naman napakalaking bagay kung saan niya gusto maupo. Pero mas advisable siguro na sa la mesa ng Kia siya maupo kasi coach siya eh. They need to strategize kung sino ang kukunin nila pag dating ng turn nila, di ba?”
Kia will pick 11th overall in the first round and fellow newcomer Blackwater Sports 12th in the order.
Globalport, which won the lottery, will have the No. 1 pick overall, which could turn out to be Fil-Am Stanley Pringle.
Rain or Shine, from the draft rights originally owned by Meralco, will choose second followed by No. 3 Barako Bull, No. 4 NLEX (formerly Air21), No. 5 Alaska, No. 6 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, No. 7 San Mig Super Coffee (from San Miguel Beer via Barako Bull), No. 8 Barako Bull (from Talk ‘N Text), No. 9 Rain or Shine, and No. 10 Barako Bull (from San Mig Coffee).
The second round will see Alaska, with three picks, choosing first (from Meralco), followed by Rain or Shine (from Globalport), No. 3 Barako Bull, No. 4 Alaska (from NLEX), No. 5 Alaska, No. 6 Barako Bull (from Barangay Ginebra), No. 7 Alaska (from SMB via Barako), No. 8 Talk ‘N Text, No. 9 Rain or Shine, No. 10 San Miguel (from San Mig Coffee via Barako), No, 11 Blackwater Sports, and No. 12 Kia Motors.
Kia and Blackwater, alternately, will then have their pick from the rest of the pool from the third round onward.
“Kailangan nilang pag-usapan kung sino-sino ang puwede nilang kunin once isa-isa nang nawala yung mga players sa first round kaya palagay ko mas maganda kung nasa la mesa siya ng Kia,” said Marcial.
Notwithstanding, Pacquiao may elect to join his fellow rookies if only for the once in a lifetime experience and to somehow calm the nerves of his co-neophytes.
Strategically, Kia can opt to use the 11th pick overall on Pacquiao or have the boxing icon called onstage by PBA commissioner Chito Salud with the team’s final choice, using its opening pick to land a similarly worthy first round acquisition while lending dramatic flair to the proceedings’ climax.
It isn’t likely any other team would disrupt the smooth flow of the draft by picking Pacquiao out of the blue although the PBA reportedly has gone out of its way to ensure no ballclub would try – even in jest.
Pacquiao, who applied for drafting last July 18, is right on track to follow the footsteps of two of his basketball idols, Robert Jaworski and Ramon Fernandez, as playing-coaches in the PBA.
He is expected to attend the first few games of Kia Motors in the Philippine Cup which starts in October before buckling down to work in preparation for his coming welterweight fight with American Chris Algieri on Nov. 22 at The Venetian in Macau.
A total of 51 applicants have so far registered well before the Aug. 13 deadline although the official list of eligible draft applicants will only be released, according to the PBA Jun Bengua, after the rookie biometrics and the PBA Commissioner’s Office screens all the requirements submitted.
Of the current list, No. 38 Emmanuel D. Pacquiao (Dec. 17, 1978/General Santos/Guard), stands among the shortest at 5-foot-6 ½, with Jose Rizal U’s Jeff Montemayor at 5-foot-6 flat.