Being a state-run university, the University of the Philippines (UP) arguably lags behind in terms of financing sports programs in comparison to other members of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP).
Any high school graduate who is willing to both study and compete for UP is very much welcome, especially if they have notable credentials. After Woodward Co shed his golden hide to maroon, another Xavier School standout chose to take his skills to Diliman. Enter Jose Anton Teodoso Manuel.
Jose Anton Teodoso – known to his friends and family as ‘Jett’– entered into UP basketball varsity and took up Geodetic Engineering. During his rookie year, he was sparingly used as he played under the shadows of Martin Reyes and Mike Silungan. During that year, Manuel averaged almost two points in five minutes per game.
Manuel saw plenty of changes during his sophomore year, in his academics when he shifted his course to Civil Engineering, and especially in his basketball career. With key players such as Co, Reyes, and Alvin Padilla out, the young guard found that he needed to step up to help his team in his second year, and he did just that. One of his shining moments that season was in UP’s win against a formidable Far Eastern University squad. Jett scored 20 points in 5-of-8 shooting, while grabbing five rebounds and making 9-of-11 free throws. It was a career-defining moment that helped Jett be named as the Most Improved Player of the league in that season. Moreover, He averaged close to nine points in 18 minutes per game.
In the following year, however, Manuel’s average dipped and returned to close to his numbers during his rookie year. And just as how much Jett’s production went down, the Maroons also had a disappointing season – winning only one game. When asked about what happened, Jett shared that he was really disheartened because he thought things were looking up for him. He added that, “I felt that we had a better chance of winning more games because our team was really good.” Despite this, the veteran guard expressed that it was a big learning experience.
Intrigues have surfaced regarding Manuel’s non-inclusion in the lineup for the UAAP Season 76. Most of the information, however, pointed to one thing: that he received an offer to train in the United States. Manuel knew that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. He clarified that he told the team of this offer and said that the training would help him get better and of course, help the team. He further added that the offer was actually just an idea, but with his parent’s support, it came into fruition. In the States, he was able to participate in training camps in Indiana and Las Vegas.
Most people expected Manuel to return last year, but instead his name remained out of the roster. Jett explained that when he came back from the US training, he decided to focus on his studies. He said, “Yung semester ata na ‘yun, mahirap puro majors. Eh ‘yung course ko, parang ‘yung ibang subjects, seasonal.” The Fighting Maroon also cited the situation of the team then as an added reason: having no coach and no management. His training and skills were not wasted, however, when he played for Derulo Accelero Oilers in the Philippine Basketball Association D-League under another UP Maroons legend, Coach Paolo Mendoza.
Once a Maroon, always a Maroon. Even though Manuel did not play last season, he still watched and supported his teammates. He said that “Even when I stopped playing, hindi naman nawala ‘yung suporta, ‘yung pride.” And what he saw on the court made him more excited to come back as planned.
Indeed, it was all part of the plan. Manuel said that choosing to return was not a difficult decision, “I really wanted to finish my playing years in UP. ‘Yun, bumalik ako.” The fifth-year Engineering major expressed his optimism about the changes in the program. “I see a good program. Hopefully lang masustain, kasi it’s not an overnight thing.” As a player who just returned into the program with a new system, Manuel said that he needs to adjust. Nevertheless, he still is excited to come back, “I can’t wait for the UAAP,” he said
He shared that going into each new year, the team always has high hopes. In this coming UAAP, Manuel said that, “realistically we want to win a lot more games than last year.” He added, “The goal now is to win four or more.” For the senior guard what is important now is for the team to change the culture into a winning one.
Jett Manuel comes back to the team he loves most with a fire to stir it back to relevance. As a person who is used to winning on the court and in life, losing is such a bitter pill to swallow; but hope always springs eternal.
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