PETALING JAYA: Filipino boxing legend Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao will enter a team to compete in the sixth season of the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
Owned and backed by the 36-year-old boxer, the Pacman Mindanao Aguilas will make their debut when the ABL starts in October.
It will mark the return of a team from the Philippines – traditional basketball giants in South-East Asia – after a one-year absence.
San Miguel Beermen were the last Filipino team to compete in the league, winning the championship in 2013 before pulling out last year.
Fans may even get a treat as Pacquiao could make an appearance in the league.
The eight-division boxing world champion is a player-coach for the Mahindra Enforcers in the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) League. He also owns the MP Hotel Warriors, who are in the PBA Development League.
“A Pacquiao-owned team competing in the ABL is definitely a big boost,” said Westports Malaysia Dragons head coach Ariel Vanguardia.
“The Philippines is crazy about basketball and the stadium is packed to the brim every match day. Pacquiao may even play, especially since he played three PBA matches last year.
“It will also be a big challenge for the Dragons playing against a team that comes from the best basketball country in the region. We’ll definitely need to double our efforts, knowing another powerhouse team is coming in,” added Ariel.
Six teams – Dragons, HiTech Bangkok City, Laskar Dreya South Sumatra, Indonesia Warriors, Saigon Heat and Singapore Slingers – competed in the ABL last season.
HiTech won the championship after beating the Dragons 2-0 in the three-game Finals.