EAGER to punch a ticket to the pros, Pacquiao wasn’t going to miss this scouting combine.
Rene Pacquiao, that is.
While his illustrious cousin Manny Pacquiao can afford to miss Tuesday's event as he had been hired as coach and is set to be picked at No. 11 at the latest in the PBA draft, the little-known Rene sweated it out and showed off his skills in the pre-draft workouts on Tuesday at the Hoops Center in Mandaluyong.
A Bukidnon native who played college ball in Cebu, Rene finally flashed his talent in front of a wider audience in the Big City, standing toe to toe with his fellow rookie hopefuls.
Although he registered just two points on 1-of-4 shooting and two rebounds in 13 minutes in the scrimmage, the younger the 27-year-old Pacquiao impressed by scoring his only output on an impressive up-and-under move under pressure.
A 6-foot-5 power forward with a touch from long range, Rene played for Southwestern University in Cebu for five years from 2007, but has since been under the radar.
He had the chance to gain spotlight as he transferred to Manila to play in the D-League for Hog’s Breath last year, but he was rarely used by coach Caloy Garcia. That caused him to somehow lose the drive and decide to return to Cebu where he settled in small provincial leagues.
“Parang nawalan ako ng gana. Umuwi na lang ako sa amin. Larong labas na lang.”
That was until he received a call from his celebrated cousin, a concurrent Sarangani representative and incoming coach of Kia, encouraging him to revive his career and try out for his basketball team.
“Tinawagan ako ni Cong. Na-excite ako bigla,” he said. “Sabi niya kukunin niya ako sa Kia.”
Rene, who said he now stays with Manny at his Forbes Park mansion, is unperturbed by the criticism over the entry of two Pacquiaos in the draft.
“Bahala na sila. Di ko na lang pinapansin. Basta ako, alam naman ni Lord (kung anong kaya ko),” said Rene, who said he inherited his height from his father’s side, although his father stands just 5’9”.
The older 5-foot-6 Pacquiao also applied for the Draft, but was excused to attend the Combine due to previous commitments.
Asked if there was pressure demanded brought on by his celebrated name, Rene said it was more of pride.
“Proud na proud ako kasi magka-pamilya kami.”
He vowed to live up to the Pacquiao name — in another sport this time.
“Kagaya ni congressman pag may fight siya, may puso rin ako,” he said, pointing to his chest. “Ipapakita ko yung best ko. Gagawin ko lahat. Kasi iba yung bisaya, may puso.”