Pacquiao cousin makes PBA debut, three years after being picked in draft
Rene Pacquiao, a second cousin of Mahindra playing-coach Manny, gave a good account of himself in limited minutes in his PBA debut. Jerome Ascano

NOT just one Pacquiao made a rare appearance for Mahindra in its last game in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday night against Ginebra.

While listed coach Manny Pacquiao was in attendance for only the second time this conference, another Pacquiao was surprisingly present after being a late addition to the playing roster.

Rene Pacquiao, a second cousin of the boxing icon, finally made his league debut, three years after Kia franchise made him the team’s third-round pick at 25th overall in the 2014 rookie draft.  

The 6-foot-5 slotman gave a good account of himself in eigaht minutes nd 37 seconds on the court, tallying six points on 3-of-4 shooting, and one rebound in the 94-80 loss to the crowd darlings.

He earned praise from his coach.

“Rene came in and was ready,” Mahindra coach Chris Gavina said. “Few guys can come in ready on a big stage against a team like Ginebra and go out there and be productive.”

“So I give him a whole lot of credit for not shying away from the big moment and stepping up with the limited minutes he had,” he added.

[See Ginebra secures No. 1 seed after masterful win over Mahindra]

Pacquiao, a Southwestern University product picked in the rookie draft ahead of now three-year veterans Paolo Taha of Ginebra and Brian Heruela, was left unsigned by the Kia franchise as he was relegated to playing in the D-League for MP Hotel.

Now, the 30-year-old cager tries to make up for lost time as Gavina hopes management will let him keep Pacquiao in the active lineup.

“I told management, keep him in the active lineup,” Gavina said. “Let me develop him, let our coaches develop him, and who knows? We may have a Pacquiao superstar in basketball as well.”

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