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Manny tells Asiad bets: Pray, give your best

World champ Manny Pacquiao and wife Jinkee are welcomed by their four children upon their arrival at the Centennial Terminal 2. RUDY SANTOS

MANILA, Philippines –  Manny Pacquiao has called on all Filipino athletes competing in the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou to give their best in their quest for honor for the country.

“Sa lahat ng atletang Pinoy lakasan ninyo ang loob ninyo (To all the Filipino athletes strengthen your will),” the world’s greatest boxer said upon his arrival from Los Angeles yesterday.

Pacquiao flew home fresh from a huge victory over Mexican Antonio Margarito, winning his eighth world title in as many weight classes and cementing his hold as the boxing’s pound-for-pound king.

Pacquiao started out as an amateur boxer but never got to represent the country in the international arena. Still, he has kept a soft spot for the Filipino athletes as they strive for excellence.

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he carried the Philippine flag at the opening ceremonies.

At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, he called on the Filipino athletes to pray as they compete and vie for the medals against the best athletes from the Asian continent.

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“Ano man ang galing mo kung walang dasal hindi mo makakamit ang pangarap mo (No matter how talented you are, without prayers you cannot fulfill your dreams),” he said.

So far, after a week of competition, the Philippines has two gold, one each in bowling and billiards, to go with four silver and nine bronze medals. The competition lasts until Nov. 27.

“Ang pagdarasal kasama sa training ‘yan (Prayers are part of training),” said the boxer, a devout Catholic.

“It’s not just all about mental and physical conditioning but spiritual conditioning as well,” he added.

The 31-year-old boxer, the greatest and richest Filipino athlete ever, is hoping that his ring exploits, past and present, would serve the rest of the Filipino athletes in good stead.

“I hope I can provide the inspiration through my accomplishments,” said the fighting congressman from Sarangani.

And he’s not just looking at the ongoing Asian Games or the 2011 Southeast Asian Games but the 2012 London Olympics as well.

“I really hope that we can win the gold in the Olympics in 2012,” he said, vowing to provide the support to the Filipino athletes.

“In any way I could help, I will help,” he said.

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