Vic Manuel, the newest acquisition of the San Miguel Beermen, spoke revelations of preferring the winningest ballclub and his childhood team in Philippine Basketball Association as his destination – and team up with Arwind Santos – when he requested for a trade back on his Alaska days.
He will finally suit up for the Beermen but without Santos, who was his counterpart in a surprising one-on-one trade deal approved by the league on Monday after being shortly acquired by Northport from Phoenix Super LPG.
Manuel, in an interview with Tiebreaker Times, admitted idolizing Santos during college days and had a chance watching the 40-year old cager back in Olongapo.
“Talagang idol ko lang si Arwind noong college pa ‘ko. Pag naglalaro sa lugar namin ‘yan doon sa Olongapo, nanonood pa ‘ko nun sa kanya,” he stated.
Despite lamenting a chance to play with the 2013 Most Valuable Player, Manuel sees big shoes to fill in left by Santos who spent 12 years for the franchise and tallied multiple awards.
“Nalungkot ako. Kasi si Arwind pa ‘yung naka-trade ko,” he said
“Gusto ko nga siya makasama sa team kasi ‘yung SMB, alam ko, team na ni Arwind ‘yan eh. Di naman namin in-expect na kami pa ‘yung magkaka-trade, magkaka-switch ng places. Medyo malungkot lang din,” he added.
Santos justified his remarkable contribution for the club, taking most of his individual awards – including two Best Player of the Conference awards, seven Mythical First Team, and four All-Defensive Team recognition – on a San Miguel uniform.
“Alam mo naman ‘yung role ni Arwind diyan, mahirap palitan. Alam mo naman ‘yung mga dinala ni Arwind sa team na ‘yan, so mahirap talaga,” Manuel said.
Santos, a key for, arguably, the all-time most dominant five-man unit along Junemar Fajardo, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, and Marcio Lassiter, helped San Miguel grab nine championship titles, including the five-year Philippine Cup supremacy of Beermen from 2015 until 2019, coming off years of drought or also coined as “Petronovela”.
Manuel anticipates big expectations from his new team and foresees bigger challenge since he is still recovering from a groin injury
“Ang ano ko sa kanila, maging healthy lang ‘yung katawan ko talaga. Kasi ‘pag hindi healthy, wala akong maitutulong sa team…Yun ang kalaban ko diyan eh, mga injury,” he said.
Meanwhile, Manuel sees smooth adjustments as he will be reunited with former teammates in other tournaments.
In his one-and-done stint in Gilas Pilipinas, Manuel played with June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross, and Marcio Lassiter to retain basketball supremacy of the country in Southeast Asian region during 2019 SEA Games where the Philippines was the host.
Likewise, Manuel also played with three-time scoring champ Terrence Romeo and Bambam Gamalinda.
He and Gamalinda suited for the Burger King team that played in the already disbanded PBL in 2008. He had also played with Romeo for Cebuana Lhuillier in the inaugural year of PBA D-League in 2011.