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Manuel eager to return to action

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If there is one player that is eager to make up for that Alaska collapse in the PBA Philippine Cup finals series last week, Vic Manuel can’t wait to start all over again as the quest for a title resumes for the Aces in the league’s second conference Commissioner’s Cup.

Manuel and his teammates were back at the Hoops Gym in Shaw Boulevard to get the ball rolling with their preparation, nearly a week after that painful Game 7 loss in the finals versus San Miguel Beer.

“Siyempre masakit. Nandun na kami e, isang panalo na lang… pero hindi namin nakuha,” Manuel said yesterday.

The 6-foot-4 Manuel had a miserable performance in that do-or-die encounter, scoring just three on 1-of-7 shooting from the field with five rebounds in just 22 minutes of action.

The numbers of the five-year veteran Manuel in Game 7 were far from his finals series averages during the first six games, where he collected 20.83 points and nine rebounds per contest.

Manuel said that SMB’s defense forced him to miss shots.

Another reason, which is probably unknown to most Alaska supporters, is the left ankle sprain Manuel sustained in the first quarter that limited his movements and bothered him the rest of the game.

“Sinubukan ko talaga, pero masakit e. Uminom na din ako na pain reliever pero walang nangyari,” said Manuel, adding that there is still pain on his left ankle but he managed to join the team’s light drills.

The import-flavored Commissioner’s Cup will start today, but Alaska will be debuting on Feb. 19 against Blackwater.

The team will have Rob Dozier, the same reinforcement the Aces had when they won the same conference championship
back in 2014.

Manuel said it’s not just him but the entire Alaska organization is motivated to bounce back this conference from that disappointing finals series, where the Aces took a 3-0 lead but the Beermen won the next four to record a historic win never before seen in the PBA.

The former PSBA stalwart said there were lessons learned too from that painful experience.

“Siguro huwag maging complacent. Itong conference mas pag bubutihan pa ng Alaska, babawi kami. Ito na ngayon ang focus ng team, may chance kami makabawi this conference,” said Manuel.

“Sa nakita ko naman maski first day ng ensayo, wala namang nag-bago sa team. Hindi ko naman nakita na down kami sa finals, down pa kami hanggang. Walang mangyayari kung yun na lang ang iisipin namin, pwede naming gamitin yun para ma-motivate kami,” added Manuel, who is still looking for his first PBA championship.