Vic Manuel on Friday breathed a huge sigh of relief, now that his Alaska Aces have finally sealed the last spot in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup following a morale-crushing string of losses.
Prior to beating Meralco in the playoff for the eighth seed, the Milkmen was in the midst of a five-game losing skid — a skid which happened after registering a win also against the Bolts last June 9.
That slump came at the worst time for Alaska, as they only needed a win to formally secure a quarters spot.
“Yung last games namin, parang binibigay na sa amin para makapasok kami sa playoffs, hindi namin nakukuha. Binigyan pa kami ng isang pagkakataon. Ngayong gabi, na-grab namin,” said Manuel, who finished with a team-high 23 points.
“Thankful kami kasi talagang may mga opportunity na dumadating sa amin. Alam namin, parang out na kami, tapos biglang nabubuhay pa.”
With the win, the Aces have forged a quarterfinal showdown with the Terrence Jones-powered TNT KaTropa, the top-seeded team who’s also armed with a twice-to-beat advantage.
For Manuel, they will now start working on how will they at least limit Jones, who’s been one dominant figure this conference with norms of 33.7 points, 16.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists.
“Number one sila tapos twice-to-beat pa. Siyempre, kailangan paghandaan namin siya – paano namin siya ii-stop-in o paano mali-limit. Siyempre, alam naman natin yung kalidad niya,” Manuel said.
“Talagang grabe siya maglaro. Talagang halimaw, dino-dominate niya yung liga eh. Mayroon naman kaming game plan para sa kaniya. Siguro kung ma-limit namin siya, baka may chance kami.”
As for himself, Manuel admitted that he’s still feeling a bit different with his back. But he will not be letting it get in his way, especially now that the Aces will be in an all-important game this Sunday.
“Minsan naninigas pa yung likod ko. Ako laro lang ako, laro nang laro kasi ayaw ko din ipahinga eh. ‘Pag pinapahinga ko, parang lalo siyang sumasakit so nilalaro ko nang nilalaro,” he said.
“Bibigay ko pa rin lahat ng best ko kahit na may nararamdaman pa ako, lalaro ko pa rin. Importante sa amin yung laro.”
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