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Tiebreaker Times


Vic Manuel says he and Tautuaa ready to fill shoes left by JMF

San Miguel found yet another reason to believe that life without June Mar Fajardo won’t be as hard as generally perceived thanks to Vic Manuel.

In their second game without the six-time MVP, the ‘Muscle Man’ fired a conference-high 23 points to help the Beermen beat Rain or Shine, 129-116, to wrap up their Governors’ Cup elimination round campaign victoriously.

“Kailangan namin magtulong-tulong talaga, especially wala si June Mar,” he said shortly after the win at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

“Binubuhat niya kami sa lahat ng conference. So kailangan [magtulungan kami] para makatulong sa team namin,” added the 35-year-old.

That performance of his left head coach Jorge Gallent pleased as it came on the heels of his talk with Manuel and fellow big man Mo Tautua’a in manning the frontcourt while the 6-foot-10 slotman is still recovering from an MCL injury.

Tautua’a did respond well, too, punching in 23 points together with 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the conference.

Manuel and Tautua’a spearheaded SMB’s balanced attack, where three more Beermen scored 20 each — CJ Perez, Cam Clark, and Marcio Lassiter.

The last time there were five teammates with at least 20 points each in the PBA were also the Beermen in their 134-109 win over Ginebra in Game 2 of the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup Finals, per league stats chief Fidel Mangonon III.

“I’ve spoken to Vic and to Mo, now, it’s their time to shine,” said the seasoned bench tactician. “Vic is a great player, and Mo is a great player.”

Manuel, however, is far from satisfied with his outing, saying that he’s still in the process of regaining his timing — and going back to being pain-free as the tightness on his left iliotibial band (ITB) continues to linger.

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“‘Di pa nga ako satisfied eh,” he said. “Kasi parang pinupush ko pa ‘yung sarili ko. ‘Di pa ‘ko kuntento na ganun. Wala pa talaga ako sa timing e, kinukuha ko pa rin. Parang may inis pa rin sa sarili ko na makapag-perform ng maganda.

“May nararamdaman pa rin ako kahit konti. Buti na lang medyo maganda ‘yung nilaro ko ngayon para pagdating sa playoffs, tumaas pa ‘yung kumpiyansa ko.”

The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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