By JONAS TERRADO
Vic Manuel’s second stint with the NorthPort Batang Pier ended before it even started after being dealt to the San Miguel Beermen in exchange for the latter’s long-time star Arwind Santos.
The PBA Commissioner’s Office approved the one-on-one deal Monday, Nov. 8, three days after Manuel was shipped from the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters as part of a multi-player deal.
By getting Manuel, who they hope will add muscle to their talent-laden roster, the Beermen had to let go one of the greatest players in the storied history of San Miguel Corporation’s flagship franchise.
In almost 12 seasons since being acquired from the Air21 Express, Santos helped SMB win nine PBA championships while taking home two Finals Most Valuable Player awards, two Best Player of the Conference and seven Mythical First Team selections.
Santos also claimed the biggest individual accomplishment of his career in 2013 by being named the season MVP at the time when SMB was still known as Petron.
Santos is now tasked to provide veteran presence to a young NorthPort squad while its former team will now look to return to its championship-winning ways with Manuel on the fold.
San Miguel is out to redeem itself from losing to TNT in a hard-fought seven-game semifinal series in the Philippine Cup.
TNT eventually won the title at the expense of SMB’s sister team Magnolia Pambansang Manok, ending a streak of 11 straight titles by teams under the San Miguel Corporation umbrella.
The Manuel deal is perhaps the first move in their Beermen’s bid to wrest back SMC’s dominance in the league.
It was the third time that Manuel was traded this year, starting in February when Alaska sent the muscular power forward along with its first and second round picks in the draft last March to Phoenix for the latter’s sixth and 16th overall selections.
Phoenix used those picks to get Larry Muyang and Aljun Melecio in this year’s proceedings.