Manny Pacquiao is getting into Erik Spoelstra’s line of work.
Pacquiao is taking over as a basketball coach in the Philippine Basketball Association. The longtime boxing champion was introduced this week as the coach of a new Kia team in that league, with the season opening in October.
Even though Spoelstra is wildly popular in the Philippines, the coach of the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat might have just lost his title as that nation’s favorite basketball coach.
“Well, I’m not taking a boxing job,” said Spoelstra, a Filipino American who has close ties to his mother’s homeland. “But I know he’s a huge basketball fan, so it doesn’t surprise me.”
Pacquiao’s love for basketball is no secret, and he told reporters in the Philippines this week that he was taking the coaching position seriously.
“A great responsibility,” Pacquiao said.
That being said, the next fight for the 147-pound champion is scheduled for November, shortly after the PBA season begins. The opponent remains unclear, though there’s speculation that it could be a fifth bout against Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao, who recently signed a two-year extension with Top Rank Boxing through 2016, has been fighting professionally since age 16 and is 56-5-2 in his brilliant career.
Spoelstra is planning to visit the Philippines this summer and might cross paths with Pacquiao.
But a Spoelstra-Pacquiao coaching matchup probably won’t happen. Spoelstra simply shook his head at that far-fetched notion.
“I’ll hopefully be able to see him this summer, see what’s up,” Spoelstra said. “Maybe I’ll check out a practice.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.