By Jason Cruz
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. In this edition, Rui Hachimura finds a new team, Manny Pacquiao is still fighting, and a local high school star is looking for somewhere to play college football.
Hachimura traded to Lakers
Rui Hachimura has had a rough start to his NBA career. Picked by the Washington Wizards, with the 9th pick in the NBA Draft in 2019 out of Gonzaga, the forward originally from Japan was set for success. He was on the second-team on the NBA All-Rookie Team and was a key part of the Wizards. In the fall of 2021, he left the Wizards for personal reasons and did not return until January 2022. The rest of the season saw a dip in his career averages. This year, he was traded from the Wizards to the Los Angeles Lakers. But, before he left the Wizards, he set a career-tying high for points with 30 in his last game with the team.
Hopefully for Hachimura, the change of scenery will help him. He changed his number to 28 in honor of Vanessa Bryant’s basketball number, 2, and Kobe Bryant’s 8. The former Lakers star Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
Is Manny Pacquiao making a comeback?
Despite being a full-time politician and running for president of the Philippines, Manny Pacquiao is still yearning for the boxing ring. This past December, Pacquiao fought in an exhibition match in Korea. Pacquiao’s opponent, a YouTuber by the name of D.K. Yoo, was no match for the former champion. Pacquiao knocked him down en route to a very easy win. Obviously, the exhibition match was meant to highlight Pacquiao and the apparent goal is to have an “exhibition” match with Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Pacquiao has signed a promotional deal with Rizin Fighting Federation, a mixed martial arts company based out of Japan. He has been offered to box professional wrestler Kota Ibushi in an exhibition match. Whether or not the fight will happen remains to be seen. But it’s clear that Pacquiao will be boxing on what you might describe as a ‘senior circuit’ for boxers.
The exhibition fighting circuit is picking up and Mayweather has been successful making money by fighting the likes of social media star Logan Paul and less-than-stellar boxers like Don Moore, Tenshin Nasukawa, and Mikuru Asakura. Mayweather’s star power has made these non-competitive fights lucrative for the former boxer.
Pacquiao still wants another shot at Mayweather in a rematch of their May 2015 fight. Will we ever see it? Never say never as Pacquiao continues to stay involved in combat sports while working as a lawmaker in the Philippines.
Yelm football star looking for next opportunity
Kyler Ronquillo finished off his season at Yelm High School with a play that made ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Night. In the championship game against Eastside Catholic, he stole a ball from a defensive back that had the ball in his sights and scored the game winning touchdown. Ronquillo played wide receiver on offense and defensive back on defense. He projects to be a defensive back in college. A Filipino American, Ronquillo was offered a scholarship to play college football at Portland State, but that offer fell through. The 5-10, 175 pound Ronquillo was offered non-scholarship opportunities to walk-on at the University of Washington and Washington State University. However, Ronquillo is looking for a football scholarship from a college.
According to recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman, “Ronquillo is one of the most dynamic players in the region, lightning in the bottle when the ball touches his hands.” It goes on to state, “[While] he excels in the open field because of his top end speed and burst, Ronquillo also loves to mix it up in traffic.”
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.