Pacquiao - Rene, not Manny - impresses in debut for MP Hotel in PBA D-League
Rene Pacquiao savored his minutes at MP Hotel, something he obviously won't get had he landed a spot in KIA's lineup in the PBA. Dante Peralta

AT first, Rene Pacquiao didn't hide his disappointment about not making the official lineup of KIA in the PBA and being relegated as a reserve player.

That changed quickly after getting minutes in his first game back in the D-League.

Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao's cousin put together a double-double in his first game back in the developmental league on Thursday, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 21 minutes of action in the MP Hotel Warriors’ 87-70 win over Wangs Basketball at the Ynares Sports Arena.

Pacquiao, a former Southwestern University player in Cebu who was picked in the third round by KIA at 25th overall in the last PBA rookie draft, said he has only joined MP Hotel practices for three days but immediately feels right at home with the team owned by his second cousin.

Rene also savoured his big role at MP - something he obviously won't get at KIA.

“Sa KIA kasi practice player lang ako. Dito nagagamit ako ni coach. Ginagawa ko lang ‘yung sinasasabi niya na gawin ko,” said Rene, obviously happy with his first game with MP Hotel.

[See Rene Pacquiao was supposed to be part of KIA lineup in PBA. Find out what happened]

Pacquiao, 27, has noticeably bulked up since he suited up for Hog’s Breath Café two years ago in the developmental league, knowing that he needed to put extra weight to prepare himself for the big league.

“Pagkatapos ko sa Hog’s Breath, bumalik ako sa Cebu, nagwo-workout ako araw-araw,” said Rene.

Pacquiao said he is now more prepared for the D-League than he was in his first campaign in 2012. Being a former player in Cebu has also helped him a lot with the physicality of the games in Manila, he added.

“Sanay na sanay na ako sa pisikalan. Sa Cebu, hindi natatapos ang laro kapag walang bugbugan. Kaya dito, hindi ako takot,” said Pacquiao.

“Lalaban ako, parang si Congressman Manny,” he added.

Even with the win, Rene said the Warriors are still a work in progress.

“First time kasi kami magkakasama kaya nag-aadjust pa kaming lahat sa isa’t isa,” said Rene.

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