Back in the 2014 PBA Draft, the then-Kia Sorento drafted two Pacquiaos, eight-division boxing world champion Manny Pacquiao at 11 and Manny’s cousin Rene as the 25th overall pick.
Though Manny has played in nine PBA-sanctioned games, Rene has played in none. Well, not until Friday night.
Friday morning, Rene, an alumnus of Southwestern University, was activated by the Mahindra Floodbuster, who relegated Nico Elorde to the reserve list. And the 6-foot-5 forward made the most out of his debut.
A surprise starter against, the cager donning Mahindra’s number 67 went 2-for-2 in his first five minutes of PBA action, scoring four points and grabbing a rebound to boot.
“Rene came in and was ready,” remarked Mahindra coach Chris Gavina. “Only a few guys can come in ready on a big stage against a team like Ginebra and go out there and be productive.
“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.”
The Cebuano eventually finished the game six points in eight minutes of game time in Mahindra’s 80-94 loss to Ginebra. The energy he brought in the game excited the 43-year-old mentor.
“I told management, keep him in the active lineup. Let me develop him, let our coaches develop him,” Gavina furthered.
But even if Rene is already 30 years of age, the Filipino-American coach believes there is still a potential waiting to be unleashed in Rene’s wide-bodied frame.
“Who knows? We may have a Pacquiao superstar in basketball as well,” Gavina quipped.