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From Anaheim to Manila: FEU’s Trinidad, AdU’s Manalang reflect on journey

Last Sunday, Filipino-American floor generals Jojo Trinidad of the Far Eastern University and Robbie Manalang of Adamson University were matched up against one another for the first time in the UAAP. It might have been the first time they did so under the bright lights of the Big Dome, but the two have been defending each other on the hard courts ever since they were seven years old.

“We played together since we were young kids,” Manalang said. “Our parents knew each other, we were family friends ever since.”

“We’re both from Anaheim, California. I actually played against him in high school,” Trinidad added.

The 23-year-old Manalang turned his back on the game after high school and became a full-time student. Knowing his friend’s potential, Trinidad made a pitch to his friend to come back home and try out for FEU.

“I seen him having a lot of fun here, playing basketball so I wanted to play basketball again,” Adamson’s point guard shared.

“He gave me the idea to come here and play.”

“I knew he was coming so I told him to try out at FEU so he actually tried out with us,” Trinidad narrated. “But it didn’t work out for him. I guess he was too late.”

“Now, he’s with Adamson and he’s doing good there.”

The 5’8″ guard worked out for FEU head coach Nash Racela, though the staff of the Tamaraws made no guarantees. But time was of the essence for the Filipino-American.

“I was only here for two weeks so I went with the school that gave me an offer right away,” Manalang reflected. “That was Adamson. FEU didn’t give me a solid answer.”

A year later, the two point guards, after a long journey, finally have that “we made it” moment as the two friends have gained pivotal roles in their respective team’s UAAP Season 79 campaign. And just like old times, Manalang and Trinidad were pitted against each other during the Tamaraws-Falcons encounter last Sunday.

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“I was trying to go at him, but it didn’t work out too well. Coach Nash [Racela] wasn’t too happy,” quipped Trinidad, who only played 13 minutes in the game as he was battling a case of the flu.

“We were telling each other, ‘Take it easy on me,’” added Manalang, who finished the game with eight points.

“It was cool playing against him.”

Even though the two are playing for opposing teams, Trinidad could not help but on back from the time they were Anaheim, California, to them now making waves in Manila.

“It was a good feeling. It’s crazy how we ended up here in Manila.

“It’s like we were back in California again,” Trinidad reflected.

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