Pacquiao a no-show at PBA Draft Combine but cousin Rene shows wares

Rene Pacquiao waits for his turn to play for his side during scrimmage. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

Day 2 of the PBA Draft Combine featured stars from the UAAP, NCAA, PBA D-League, and ABL. Yet, one relative unknown got the most interest from the media members present at the Gatorade Hoops Center.

The reason? He shares his surname with the reigning WBO welterweight champion of the world and the Congressman of the lone district of Sarangani.

Rene Pacquiao is an unassuming 27-year-old basketball player who came from Cebu’s Southwestern University. At 6-foot-5 inches, he was one of the tallest in the field. He has a soft touch from the outside and a good mix of post-up moves.

There are better bigs who applied for the draft. NCAA products such as Jake and Kyle Pascual are more polished. UAAP graduates such as Raul Soyud and Papot Paredes have more upside.

Yet, Rene Pacquiao trumps them all because on draft day, a team will surely select him.

Manny Pacquiao, the head coach of Team KIA and a 2014 PBA Draft applicant, already expressed his desire to select his cousin.

The world champion boxer was not able to attend the PBA Draft Combine. He asked to be excused from the activity as he had important things to do for his constituents in Sarangani. With the vacuum created by Manny Pacquiao’s absence, the media members turned their attention to Rene who tried his best to answer the questions hurled his way.

From a basketball career heading nowhere, Rene Pacquiao will now play against the best ballers in the land under the bright lights of Manila. From being an unknown Pacquiao, he will try to make a name for himself in the PBA.

Rene Pacquiao guards fellow applicant Russel Yaya in practice. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

“I lost my interest in basketball because when I played in the PBA D-League, my coaches didn’t give me the chance to prove myself. They never gave me minutes on the floor,” the younger Pacquiao said in Filipino.

“I gave up on my dream to be in the PBA and I just played for money in different leagues in Cebu but I tried my best to stay in shape by jogging and playing basketball in my old school.”

Rene Pacquiao played for Hog’s Breath Café in the PBA D-League but his stint was largely forgettable. With nothing going on for him, he went home to his province of Cebu. He toiled in small leagues until he got a call that would change his life.

“When Congressman Manny gave me a call and told me he wanted me on his team, I got excited,” he recalled. “He told me to show my best because he’s giving me this opportunity. I won’t relax just because he’ll draft me. I’ll just show my best in practice and during the game.”

From playing in unknown leagues in Cebu, Rene Pacquiao is now living large with his cousin in the Congressman’s Forbes Park mansion.

In a few months, he will be a full-fledged PBA player with his cousin as coach.

“I’ve played basketball with Manny for so long,” Rene said. “He’s a point guard and I think he’ll be able to play in the PBA. He’s good, and he shoots well.

Most of the people inside the gym hoped to catch a glimpse of Manny Pacquiao. All Filipinos are aware of his skill in boxing but most of them are in the dark in terms of his basketball.

Rene Pacquiao vouched for his absent cousin after the combine.

“Even if he’s 35 years old, he’s in great physical condition,” he said. “I know he can compete in the PBA because he has the skills.”