Joaqui Manuel has left De La Salle University the same way he entered it — as a champion.
Manuel, who has been one of the most polarizing Green Archers in recent memory, savored La Salle’s 10th championship after it outlasted University of the Philippines 73-69 in game three of the finals of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Back in 2018, he left Ateneo High School as a Blue Eaglet who led the likes of Dave Ildefonso, Kai Sotto, and SJ Belangel to the Season 80 juniors crown against Goldwin Monteverde’s NU Bullpups.
“I didn’t wanna jinx myself but my whole family kept reminding me na senior year in Ateneo, I was a champion. Now, I am in my senior year, and we’re in the Finals game three. Look what happened? I guess it’s called destiny for a reason right,” said Manuel.
If there is one thing that could be said about the former Xavier School student, it is that he never lacked confidence and conviction in his words and his actions. The way he carried himself on the court made him a lightning rod for criticism and sometimes his actions on the court did not help his case.
He does not mind, though, considering that he is a champion of Season 86. What made it sweeter for him was the fact that he let go of the captaincy to Ben Phillips and his sacrifice paid dividends.
“I mean not everyone will like me. I accepted that already. Some people will love me and that’s the La Salle community. Either way, we brought home the championship for them,” he said.
“I was in this exact same scenario in Ateneo. I was the captain. I know what it feels like to do anything for a championship. This is part of it — giving way for the seniors.”
It remains to be seen what is Manuel’s next career move after finishing his collegiate career with La Salle in the UAAP.
But right now, he is in a celebratory mood. He may have a ton of critics but he bows out as a champion Green Archer.
“Basketball-wise, I’ll get back to you on that one. But for now, I’m gonna drink with coach Caloy Garcia,” he said.