PBA: UP firestarter Jett Manuel will play in his first-ever Finals

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 26, 2018 06:40 PM
PBA: Jett Manuel will play in his first-ever Finals
Ginebra has granted Jett Manuel the golden opportunity to be in his breakthrough Finals

Jett Manuel will be experiencing the first-ever Finals of his life when Ginebra challenges defending champion San Miguel in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Yes, you read that right – first-ever Finals of his life.

That fact has not escaped the veterans of the Gin Kings. “Niloloko ako ng mga Ginebra seniors na parang, ‘Jett, first time mo lang makaka-experience ng Finals sa buong buhay mo,’” Manuel himself shared.

Before joining the crowd favorites via the 2016 PBA Draft, Manuel spent six seasons in the University of the Philippines where he experienced going winless twice.

Make no mistake, however, the now 25-year-old was at the forefront of the Fighting Maroons’ slow but sure ascent.

In fact, in his final season in the UAAP in 2016, he led State U to a 5-9 record and the sixth spot at the end of eliminations – the school’s best finish since 2006.

Still, safe to say, Manuel did not even sniff the Final Four throughout his stay in Diliman.

For that, the PBA rookie is taking all of the ribbing from his teammates in stride. “Siyempre, masakit,” he said while chuckling.

He then continued, “Pero happy rin at the same time kasi narating ko yung ganitong level ng basketball.”

Indeed, all that matters to him is that he’s here – with resurgent Ginebra as it tries to topple the defending champion Beermen. “I’m very, very happy to be here. I’m learning a lot and learning to win with this team,” he said.

He then continued, “I’m just happy to support this team in whatever way I can.”

And so, just as UP is on the rise, so it their former captain who started the fire in their return to relevance. “Hungry ako on a personal level so, as always, I’ll do all I can to help us win,” he remarked.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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