Paul Manalang answered the call of duty after showing his fiery form in University of Santo Tomas' 79-72 win over Adamson University in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament.
After back-to-back lackluster games, Manalang finally found his groove and had a breakout game with 15 points, all coming from beyond the arc on an efficient 5-of-7 shooting, to go with five assists and three rebounds.
Though it was fellow guard Joshua Fontanilla who delivered the clutch plays, Manalang definitely spelled the difference for UST this time.
"Actually po ngayon speechless parin," said the 5-foot-10 UST guard of his superb performance. "Although nag-prepare naman kami ready naman kami sa gantong situation kung ano ibigay na defense sa amin ng kalaban.
"Sa past two games ko kasi sobrang sama ng field goal ko. Ayun rine-mind kami nila coach na kung ano 'yong ibigay na sitwasyon ng kalaban doon kami mag-focus para if ever kung ano man 'yong ibigay nila ready lang kami," added the UST team captain.
Coach Jinino Manansala, for his part, shared an anecdote on why perhaps Manalang remained calm and composed en route to his fiery shooting.
For the UST head coach, it all boiled down to having faith in his wards.
Maybe a wink, or a body language of some sort, is enough for Manansala and Manalang to understand each other in the court.
"'Di ko kinakausap 'to si Paul," said Manansala. "Hinahayaan ko lang mag-focus. Ayaw ko bigyan ng pressure kahit nagkakasalubong kami sa hallway namin, kindatan lang kami niyan, alam niya na.
"Masisipag 'tong mga 'to. Katabi lang namain 'yong gym every day. Nandoon 'yong mga yan tira nang tira nagco-compete sila sa isa't isa kaya expect more dito sa UST Growling Tigers." ###