Phoenix forward Vic Manuel stepped up big time when needed the most after an impressive double-double performance against his former team Alaska Aces.
Manuel’s confidence is on a different level heading into the match, thanks to the trust and encouragement from coach Topex Robinson, who, prior to the game, revealed that Matthew Wright and Chris Banchero won’t suit up.
And the veteran forward is nothing but all smiles after finally getting the first win, 101-93, in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City Saturday, July 24.
“Masaya kasi finally, nakuha namin ‘yong first win. So lagi lang kami — sinasabi ni coach to just enjoy the game. ‘Yong tiwala niya samin nandoon talaga. Credit sa kanya kasi binigyan niya kami ng kumpyansa, especially sa buong team namin,” said Manuel, who led Phoenix with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and two assists.
“‘Yong kumpyansa ko talaga mataas kasi ‘yong tiwala sa akin ni coach Topex, tiwala ng coaching staff, tiwala ng mga teammates ko sa akin. Dedicate namin ‘tong game na to kay Matt, pati kay Chris Banchero, esp, sa buong team, management.”
In three games, the 34-year-old Nueva Ecija native cager is currently the frontrunner in statistics, averaging 22.67 points, 8.57 rebounds, 2.33 assists, and 1.67 blocks.
Manuel got traded to Phoenix in exchange for three draft picks and guard Brian Heruela last February, hoping to fill in the void left by Calvin Abueva, who was shipped to the Magnolia Hotshots.
Meanwhile, Robinson explained that the management and coaching staff decided for Wright to rest instead after spraining his ankle a day before their practice against Alaska.
Robinson, however, assured that his injury is not severe and is expected to return on Wednesday, July 28, against the Meralco Bolts to cap off the tripleheader.
“‘Di naman siya ganoon kagrabe. We need him and that is not good for him to force it,” said the two-time PBA champion. “And it’s nice to know that there’s a lot of guys stepping up. Nothing really serious with Matt. We just wanna make sure that he’s a hundred percent coming into our game on Wednesday.