RONALD Pascual was supposed to be one of the PBA's great shooters.
One of the most lethal gunners in the amateur ranks, the 6-foot-3 marksman's resumé spoke for itself even before he made the leap to the pro league.
That only makes his fall from grace all the more heartbreaking, knowing how good he could be before falling by the wayside.
Truth be told, Pascual had 'it' in him.
Though he failed to crack Adamson's lineup in his first foray in Manila, it wasn't long before he found a home at San Sebastian, thanks to then-Lubao, Pampanga Mayor Dennis Pineda and coach Alan Trinidad, where he was handled by another Kapampangan legend in Ato Agustin.
Armed with his impeccable knack for scoring highlighted by his sweet stroke, the sniper perfectly complemented the infectious energy of Calvin Abueva and the finesse of Ian Sangalang down low.
Their arrival couldn't have come at a better time for the Golden Stags, who were then relying on the might of another super scorer in Jimbo Aquino.
But with the new blood coming in, the changing of the guard was inevitable as the three Kapampangans, who were aptly called the Pinatubo Trio, burst to the scene and delivered an NCAA championship to San Sebastian in 2009.
It was only a matter of time before the federation came calling, and in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) included Pascual in the Sinag Pilipinas squad which won the gold medal in Naypyidaw in Myanmar, alongside collegiate stars Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Kevin Alas, and Bobby Ray Parks.
At the end of his college career, Pascual remained a fixture for the NLEX team in the PBA D-League, winning six championships in the developmental ranks while teaming up with college basketball's cream of the crop.
It was in the PBA D-League where Pascual really made a living with the Road Warriors, albeit some may argue to his detriment, too, as he repeatedly delayed his entry to the pro league even as peers like Abueva (in 2012) and Sangalang (in 2013) have already made the leap.
It wasn't until 2014 when Pascual finally decided to follow suit upon the advice of Pineda.
San Miguel certainly acknowledged the talent he possessed, making him the third overall pick in the 2014 PBA Rookie Draft, only behind Stanley Pringle, who was picked by GlobalPort, and Alas, who was selected by Rain or Shine and later on traded to TNT.
As a rookie, he saw spot minutes for the loaded Beermen side yet still had his moments, including a 15-point outburst in an 88-77 win over Meralco in the 2015 PBA Philippine Cup.
Although minutes were hard to come by, success wasn't as he was a part of San Miguel's two championships that season, which signaled the coming of an eventual dynasty.
Truly, Pascual continued to be a winner.
However, after just a season with the Beermen, he found himself shipped to Star (now-Magnolia) in a four-team trade that also involved Rain or Shine and Barako Bull.
It's with the Hotshots where Pascual's personal demons caught up with him. He routinely missed practices, citing alleged injuries, and even went MIA in 2016, leaving no trace for his teammates and even the management.
Inevitably, he turned into a journeyman, making stops at GlobalPort and Blackwater before Alaska tried to give him a new lease on life in 2016.
Pascual's talent was undeniable, but his confidence was waning, as told by a few coaches Spin.ph reached out to about that final run with the Aces. He could still light it up from distance when he wanted to, but the hunger wasn't there anymore.
After just 12 games with Alaska, Pascual was soon out of the PBA, playing his last game in 2018.
Since then, news about Pascual have been few and far between.
Sources who knew the now-32-year-old said that, like in his final years in the PBA, the biggest problem for Pascual was his gambling habit. This was further complicated by personal issues, which all the more contributed to his downward spiral.
Even his old peers in the PBA admitted that they no longer have any contact with him.
Witnesses who reached out to Spin.ph shared that Pascual last stayed in Mandaluyong City, and has since become a nomad, looking lost at times and in dire need of support as he constantly seeks a new place to stay in.
These claims, in one way or the other, support the testimonies his brother Ronnel had, which he detailed in post currently making rounds on social media.
Sad as Pascual's tale is, all hope isn't lost as a number of his former teammates have tried to reach out to the beleaguered sniper.
Hopefully, there's still time for this story to have a happy ending.