After scoring just one point from the free throw line and going 0-of-6 in his rookie season as a pro baller, Manny Pacquiao finally nailed his first field goal in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Behind the loud cheers of the crowd at the famed Araneta Coliseum, Pacquiao, playing for the Mahindra Enforcers, hit a baseline jumper at the 9:59 mark into the second quarter in front of the defense of Rain or Shine’s Chris Tiu. Fans and Pacquiao’s teammate broke into a frenzy following his nothing-but-net basket.
That field goal broke the deadlock and gave Pacquiao’s squad the 27-25 lead.
But the Enforcers failed to take full control of the game and fell to the Elasto Painters, 108-94, in its first game in the PBA’s 41st season.
Pacquiao, who is also a congressman, did not return in the second half and wrapped up his performance with two points from his 1-of-3 shooting from the field in his almost six minutes on the hardcourt.
He also listed one assist.
On a hiatus from boxing following a shoulder injury in his last fight against the now retired Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao was re-activated in Mahindra’s roster last Friday after being put on the reserve list.
When asked at halftime about his first official basket in the pros, the eight-division boxing champion humbly replied: “Tsamba lang ‘yun. (I just got lucky).”
“Nagpa-practice ako araw-araw. Natuwa naman ako na pumasok ang tira ko (I practice everyday. I’m happy my shot went in,” Pacquiao added.
Tiu, for his part, said it was not sheer luck for Pacquiao. He admitted to instantly turning into a fan of the boxing icon inside the playing court.
“I got excited the moment he touched the ball, the whole coliseum was going crazy,” Tiu said, a former national team member. “I enjoyed my matchup with him. Playing against Manny in a professional basketball setting is an experience in itself.”