That sweetness brought by winning a championship easily took away all the bitterness Vic Manuel tasted when he fell short multiple times in the past.
The ‘Muscle Man’ on Sunday night finally reached the pinnacle of success as San Miguel took out TNT to rule the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup, marking the proud ball club’s return to that very same throne after a three-year wait.
“Pagkakuha ko nito, parang nakalimutan ko lahat ‘yung mga heartbreak ko sa mga nakaraang championship eh,” he said moments after the Beermen’s 119-97 win in the Finals’ Game Seven at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“Sobrang saya pala na makuha mo na ‘yung pinapangarap mo, kasi ‘yun naman ‘yung goal ng bawat player dito sa PBA, maka-champion.”
Prior to this, Manuel reached the Finals five times, but failed to win one in all of those instances. Three of the losses he suffered were at the hands of SMB, including that ‘Beeracle’ run in the 2016 Philippine Cup finale.
The 35-year-old himself is well aware of that irony, but that hardly matters to him. All that he wants is to satisfy that hunger for gold, the reason why kept the faith that he’ll do so one day despite the many heartbreaks.
“Never pumasok sa isip ko na sumuko,” said the ninth overall pick of the 2012 PBA Rookie Draft. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko na habang nasa PBA pa ako, naglalaro, may chance pa ako mag-champion. Andito pa naman ako.”
Manuel finally did. And he accomplished as much by playing an integral role in the clincher, contributing 16 points and seven rebounds.
“Sinwerte naman nakakuha ako, sa part pa ng San Miguel na nagkataon na lagi akong tinatalo dati. Actually, 0-3 ako sa kanila eh. Nakuha ko yung championship sa kanila pa. Masarap sa pakiramdam,” he expressed.
Now that he has, at last, felt how it’s like winning a championship, Manuel isn’t settling just for one as he guns for more moving forward.
“Oo naman. Siyempre,” he said. “Sabi ko nga noong nasa Alaska pa ako that time, kung makakuha kami ng isa, may possibility na magtuloy-tuloy eh.
“Kaso talagang inalat kami, hindi kami makakuha. Nag-move on na lang ako. Binigyan ako ng opportunity, dito pa sa San Miguel.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.