Ex-PBA import a Pacman fan
() - February 14, 2008 - 12:00am

Los Angeles patrol policeman Francois Wise was at the right place and at the right time when Manny Pacquiao walked into the downtown station to report a case of bank fraud last Thursday.

Wise, 49, was writing a report at the front desk and about to sign off from work for the day when he overheard Pacquiao speaking in Pilipino to companions. 

“I recognized the language because I played five years in the PBA,” said Wise in a long distance telephone interview yesterday. “I looked up and saw this familiar face. Aren’t you Pacman, I asked. When he nodded, I introduced myself as a former PBA import. Of course, I got his autograph.”

Wise said he’s not involved in Pacquiao’s case. 

“I just happened to be there when he came in,” said Wise. “I knock off at about 6 p.m. and Pacman walked in late afternoon. Another police officer attended to his report. My son Junior is a big boxing fan and watches all the fights on TV. I’m a boxing fan myself. I’ve watched Pacman’s fights, too.”

Wise said Pacquiao invited him to watch his fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on March 15. “I’d love to go if my schedule will allow it,” he said. “Pacman looks like he’s in real good shape. I know Marquez is tough but I think Pacman will knock him out.”

Wise, who played at Long Beach State, saw action for U-Tex, Tanduay, Manila Beer and Hills Brothers in the PBA, averaging 36.7 points in 118 games. He was known as the Magnificent Hulk because of his 6-5, 220-pound body which was like granite with finely chiseled muscle. Wise made his PBA debut in 1981 and ended his tour of duty with Hills Brothers under coach Nat Canson in 1987. 

“It’s been 20 years since I left Manila and I’ve always dreamed of coming back,” said Wise who has been a patrol policeman for 18 years. “I’d love to see my former coaches, teammates and friends again. I’ll always remember Bogs Adornado, Fritz Gaston, Atoy Co, Philip Cezar, Lim Eng Beng, Freddie Webb, Andy Jao, Rajan Sadhwani and Vic Sanchez whom I called Crazy Horse.”

Manila is close to Wise’s heart because his oldest daughter Bonita, now a volleyball import in Europe, was born here.

“My wife, also named Bonita, and I came over in 1981 and we were just married,” said Wise. “Our daughter was born at the Makati Medical Center. I’ll never forget that.”

Aside from Bonita, Wise’s other children are Francois Jr., 25, Cameron, 20, and Eric, 18. Junior works as a manager of a car rental company in Los Angeles. Cameron plays junior college basketball while Eric, who stands 6-6, is evaluating at least six scholarship offers after graduating from Martin Luther King High School in Riverside.

Wise said one day when he’s on leave, he’ll drop by the Wild Card Gym to watch Pacquiao work out.

“I’m a big Pacman fan,” said Wise. “He told me he recognized me from when I was playing in the PBA but if that was in 1987, he was only eight or nine years old. He plays basketball, too, so that’s something we’ve got in common.”

Wise shot a single-game high of 74 points in the PBA and never averaged less than 30. His PBA coaches were Glenn McDonald (U-Tex), Webb (Tanduay), Ed Ocampo (Manila Beer) and Canson (Hills Brothers). Among his teammates were Jimmy Noblezada, Tito Varela, Steve Watson, Ed Cordero, Abet Guidaben, Ely Capacio, former Mayor Joey Marquez, J. B. Yango, Talk ‘N’ Text team manager Frankie Lim and Sta. Lucia assistant coach Adonis Tierra.

“I heard about the coming PBA Legends Tour in the US ,” said Wise. “I’m thinking of going to watch some games and meet the guys. But I’m not playing. I haven’t played in over 10 years and my latest involvement with the game has been coaching my sons.”

By the way, the Magnificent Hulk has ballooned to 305 pounds, making him the most recognizable – and probably, the most popular – cop in the L. A. force. – Joaquin Henson

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