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Manny Pacquiao

Kobe feels bond with fellow champ Pacquiao

July 21, 2009 6:35pm

The world they reign in may be different but visiting basketball superstar Kobe Bryant could feel a great bond with Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.

It’s not because they share the same sports apparel brand. Or he’s just being a gracious visitor to his host’s favorite son.

It’s more like a champion seeing his own winning attitude and dedication to his craft in another. Like an artist appreciating a fellow disciple of the arts.

“I love him," Bryant said of Pacquiao during Tuesday’s press conference for his 2009 Asia Tour: Philippines for Nike in Makati City.

Fresh from winning his fourth NBA championship with the Lakers and the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) plum, Bryant and reigning pound-for-pound king Pacquiao recently met during a commercial shoot for Nike in Los Angeles.

Pacquiao was all praises for the 30-year-old cager upon his return from the shoot, admiring Bryant’s humility and warmth while declaring himself as a Laker fan. Also known for his passion for basketball, The Pacman previously rooted for the Celtics.

And for Bryant, the feeling is mutual.

“I enjoy being around people who are just as competitive, who have the same passion and work ethic," the “Black Mamba" said. “It’s an honor to meet him because you can tell by watching him perform when he boxes that he truly loves the sport and I have the tremendous amount of respect for him. I wish him all the best."

Now a “Pacfan" himself, Bryant would love to see Pacquiao duke it out with Miguel Cotto live on November 14 – if only his tight schedule would allow.
Kobe Bryant is all praises for fellow champ and hardworker Manny Pacquiao and Filipino kids during the Manila stop of his six-city 2009 Nike Asian Tour on Tuesday. Joe Galvez

“I’ve never seen him fight in person but if I don’t have a game in his next fight, I’ll be there," he said.

Asked about what he feels about what Pacquiao’s chances against Cotto, Bryant said: “Manny Pacquiao all the way. I think it's not even a question" to the applause of everyone in the ballroom.

Bryant was in Manila for the kick off leg of his 2009 Asia Tour for Nike, which would bring him to Singapore, Taipei, Hongkong, Shanghai and Chengdu afterwards.

In his whirlwind tour of Manila, the multi-titled dribbler visited the Nike Park at The Fort to meet young ballers from select Gawad Kalinga communities and also introduce the Dream Season, a new basketball shoes for outdoor games.

Highlighting the tour was a basketball champ at the PhilSports arena in Pasig City where he showcased his skills and shared his basketball prowess alongside the Nike Elite Campers.

Already on his third visit to the basketball-crazy country, Bryant said he likes the Filipinos kids’ energy and enthusiasm the most.

I enjoy being around people who are just as competitive, who have the same passion and work ethic. It’s an honor to meet him (Pacquiao) because you can tell by watching him perform when he boxes that he truly loves the sport and I have the tremendous amount of respect for him.
Kobe Bryant on Manny Pacquiao

“It’s always the kids," he said. “I missed being around kids. They love the game. I love being around their energy. Takes me back to when I was a kid – you just play, have so much fun playing. And they’re willing to work hard to be the best."

And of course there’s the famous Filipino hospitality.

“Everytime I come here, I’m welcomed with open arms. It feels like home-away-from-home," he said.

As with his every tour, Byrant wishes to convey his message of hard work and work ethic to kids who aspire to make it big in basketball someday.

“You have to work hard, play hard. You don’t play like you’re the No. 1 guy on the team; you play like you’re the 13th, 14th, 15th guy on the team. That’s what I want to pass on to them," he said.

And when Kobe speaks, his horde of Filipino basketball fans are all ears. That probably includes Pacquiao, who espouses basically the same principle himself. - Olmin R. Leyba, GMANews.TV


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