Boxing hero Manny Pacquiao said Wednesday he would promote the Philippines’ bid to host the 2019 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup.

“Yes, I’m going to Tokyo with the Philippine delegation to help in our bid to host FIBA 2019,” he said in a statement.

Pacquiao, 36, said he would travel next month to the Japanese capital where FIBA would announce the host.

The basketball-crazy Philippines qualified for last year’s FIBA World Cup in Spain, finishing 21st.

It faces stiff competition from Asian giant China as host for the 2019 event, according to the FIBA website.

Pacquiao, who has gained worldwide fame for holding boxing world titles in eight weight divisions, is also an avid basketball fan.

Last year he controversially signed on as playing coach of a neophyte team in the highly-competitive Philippine professional basketball league.

However the 1.69-metre (5 foot 7 inch) Pacquiao has been underwhelming on the hardcourt, playing just for a few minutes in each game despite cheering fans in the bleachers.

Pacquiao has parlayed his boxing fame into a fortune in showbiz, as a commercial endorser and even in politics, winning election as the congressman of a district in the poverty-stricken southern Philippines. – Agence France-Presse

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