Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head coach Tim Cone admitted that he is saddened with Jett Manuel’s decision to walk away from the PBA after just a single season, as he has decided to focus on his career as a civil engineer.
The University of the Philippines alumnus spoke with the team on Friday morning to say that he will no longer be re-signing with the team. With that, Manuel will be leaving with one PBA championship under his belt.
“I’m saddened by it all,” said Cone moments after Ginebra’s practice on Friday afternoon at Upper Deck Gym in Pasig.
“He really needs to go and help his family with their firm. He needed to go and he wasn’t secured with his future here, and he felt he needed to go with his future right away and take advantage of his engineering degree,” he added.
“I was shocked to find out. We certainly wish him well.”
Manuel played sparingly for the Barangay in his only season – he only had two games in the 2018 Governors’ Cup. For Cone, he also admitted that he regrets not being able to give him longer minutes on the court.
“I think the regret is I didn’t give him enough playing time so he can feel good about his career. Maybe his parents didn’t get a good chance to feel good about his career,” he said. “When you get a guy like that, it makes you sick that you didn’t get him that opportunity. He’s a great, great kid and he’s a good representative of the game for us. He came here and worked his butt off every day in practice.”
“The only problem is he had a bunch of veterans in front of him. It’s gonna take some patience for him. But, we did forsee him as a part of our future core along with Julian [Sargent], AJ [Mariano], Art [Dela Cruz], Scottie [Thompson].
“We felt like he was a part of that future for us,” added Cone.
But as tough as it is for him, the decorated bench strategist is immensely proud of decision of the 26-year-old shooting guard, whom the Gin Kings drafted with the 12th overall pick back in the 2017 Rookie Draft.
“We’re sad about the idea, but I’m proud of him for making that decision,” he said.
“It takes incredible character to walk away from the game to do something for your family. That’s how it’s explained to me. His family wants him to get going on his career right away. It’s nice that he has that option,” Cone added.
“A lot of basketball players get so locked into their career but they don’t prepare themselves to do anything else,” he admitted.
“And the fact that he went to school and he did well in school and got his degree, and he has the opportunity to be a top-flight engineer – which he will because he’s a very disciplined kid – we knew that from him being here.”
But should Manuel feel the itch to play basketball again, Cone said that the door is open for the Fighting Maroon.
‘I told him I left the door open,” said Cone, who has honed many great players in the 20-plus years he’s been coaching.
“If he gets bored with the civilian life, he can go back to our army and keep battling with us. But that will be on him.”