Journeyman Vic Manuel may have finally found a home in the PBA.
After bouncing from one team to another during each of his first three seasons in the pro league, Manuel looks very much comfortable playing a new role with the Alaska Aces this season.
Proof of that is Manuel’s sudden rise in Alaska’s ongoing playoff run.
Ranked no. 3 in the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs, the forward out of Philippine School of Business Administration banged in a team-high 13 points, to go along with five rebounds and four assists in powering the Aces to an 82-78 victory over the 10th seed NLEX Road Warriors in the initial phase of the quarterfinals.
Manuel continued his torrid shooting three days later, barreling his way in for 17 points, on top of nine rebounds to lead the Aces to a wire-to-wire 87-69 demolition of the Meralco Bolts and towing Alaska back to the Final Four in the process.
The 27-year-old Manuel’s quiet, but effective plays earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps. Player of the Week for the period of Dec. 9-14, beating teammate Dondon Hontiveros.
The three-year pro averaged 15 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in the Aces’ two-game quarterfinal romp.
Alaska coach Alex Compton said there’s no doubt that they’ve got a gem of a player in Manuel, whom the team acquired in a trade with Air21 last season in a bid to strengthen its frontline.
“I’m really happy for Vic and he teams up with Calvin (Abueva) very well for us at the four spot,” Compton said, while praising the native from Licab, Nueva Ecija.
Manuel arrived in the PBA by way of GlobalPort, which selected him ninth overall in the 2012 Rookie Draft. But the hardworking forward was traded during his rookie season to Meralco, followed by Air21, before finding his way to Alaska last season.
With Gabby Espinas still out after suffering a broken foot late last season, Manuel has ably filled in the power forward spot as he easily forms a deadly Alaska frontline with veteran center Sonny Thoss and the energetic Abueva.
Manuel will try to continue his solid plays when Alaska begins its best-of-seven semifinal series against Rain or Shine this week. (RD)
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