Sometimes, it’s all about timing.
Vic Manuel’s surge to become the clear-cut best power forward in the PBA Philippine Cup finals through two games has come at a perfect time.
He has been a beast on the floor, and it has translated to a 2-0 lead for the Alaska Aces.
“He’s just really stepping it up and what a great time for us,” Aces head coach Alex Compton said.
Manuel has racked up 21.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, and shot close to 70 percent from the field in the first two games of the finals, averaging higher minutes (25) than in the semi-finals (18.5).
While it appears Manuel has become more fearless because of the absence of June Mar Fajardo, who could have covered the paint, Compton says it has been his attitude since Day 1. “I don’t know if it would affect his confidence that much. I have never seen Vic be intimidated by a single person. That is just kind of who he is,” Compton shared.
And the no-fear approach has taken the Aces to another level, as Manuel took advantage. The way Manuel has dominated the post doesn’t require complex explanations; he just uses his size, footwork, and strength well enough to make well-created shots all the time.
“Nagkakataon lang may mga open lane na pwede akong daanan o may easy baskets,” Manuel said. “Aggressive din ako kapag hawak ko ang bola. Talagang option din ako ni coach eh. Hinahanap ako ni coach sa post. Nagkakaroon lang siguro ng advantage.”
With the way Manuel has been playing, it is difficult to imagine he was once only second-fiddle to frontliners like Sonny Thoss or Calvin Abueva. But after stellar improvement during the off-season, Manuel has found a way to crack the regular rotation and play key minutes.
“Pareho kami ng slot ni Calvin pero ngayon in-adjust niya sa wing man kaya nagkaroon rin ako ng time makapaglaro sa team. Mas magandang advantage rin (kung sabay kami),” Manuel shared.
It is still not an easy task for Manuel, he admits, to attack the paint each game against the Beermen’s frontliners.
Ang laking kawalan niya (Fajardo) talaga at madepensa siya, ganoon siyang kalaki. Pero kahit wala siya, nahihirapan pa rin kami sa San Miguel eh. Di mo masasabing wala siya kasi andun yung (ibang sentro) nag-i-step up para sa kanila,” Manuel said.
But there is no denying he is capable of doing damage against those bigs, or any frontline in the league.
He has bullied his way into relevance and is now one of the best interior operators of the game.
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