MANILA, Philippines — Coach Gianmarco Pozzecco dedicated Italy’s come-from-behind 78-76 win over Serbia in the Fiba World Cup second round to Manny Pacquiao.
Pozzecco, who has been asking to meet Pacquiao since he arrived in Manila last week, got his wish granted after the eight-division world boxing champion invited him to his house in Forbes Park, Makati on the eve of their match against Serbia.
Pozzecco, whose team improved to a 3-1 record in Group I behind Simone Fontecchio’s 30-point explosion, was still on cloud nine after meeting his idol and their big win over World No.6 Serbia.
“I dedicate this victory to Pacquiao,” Pozzecco told reporters.
“He’s so [a] nice person. We spent like little time because I had a game tonight but he invited me to his house for dinner and we played chess, I lost. He’s an amazing person. He represents you guys. You’re to be proud of them and he’s to be proud of you.”
“I will never forget this in my life. I love him before and now even more,” he added.
Pozzecco couldn’t believe a boxing legend would invite him to his house after joking about setting a meet-up and a match for both of them a couple of times in the country’s hosting of the World Cup.
“I was joking. I’m really a fan of Manny because I love boxing. I was really a fan of him. A couple of times, I said I desired to meet him, and it was true, but I didn’t expect him that he’d invite me to his house for dinner,” Pozzecco said.
“It’s really something amazing. Just because I said a couple of times during the interview: Hey I wanna meet Pacquiao. Why he doesn’t come? Is he afraid? This is something that in our country is not possible to possible that one huge star, a legend in the history of sports, invite one idiot like me to his house just because I said something.”
Pozzecco gifted the Filipino boxer an Italy jersey with “Pacquiao” on the back during his visit, expressing that Pacquiao represents the Filipino people, whom he described as amazing and lovely.
“I came here to the Philippines and you are all so lovely guys. So lovely people. I love you. Then one moment, I started to talk about one guy that represents you in the world, of course, it’s Manny Pacquiao,” he said. “Yesterday night, it happened, and you have to be proud of him, all of you Filipinos, because he’s an amazing person. Amazing. He’s really humble and he surprised me because he’s a true legend in the history of sports, not just with Filipinos or with boxing.”
Aside from Pozzecco, Dominican Republic star Karl-Anthony Towns and Golden State Warriors players Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney also visited Pacquiao’s house.
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