CEBU CITY - Reigning Cesafi MVP Jaybie Mantilla has greener pastures in mind and has decided to forego his final year of eligibility with the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars to instead play for the Manila Stars in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
Five-foot-8 guard Mantilla averaged 17.58 points, 7.42 rebounds, 5.25 assists and 2.33 steals last season in the Cesafi.
The pride of Pasil said that the decision to leave USJ-R was a tough one to make especially with how the Jaguars were booted out of the semifinals last year in spite being a top seed. However, the call of the semi-pro league and the chance to perform at that level was just too hard to ignore.
“I just want to try and prove myself at that level already. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to give USJ-R a title but I felt that I tried my very best and gave it my all in all three years that I played for the school. So I feel that it’s time to take that next step,” said Mantilla, who relayed that the decision to jump to Manila was somehow softened by the fact that the Stars have familiar faces already onboard.
The Stars have former pro Roger Yap, who Mantilla considers a mentor and was the one that recruited the Cebuano to come to Manila’s side.
Manila also has former University of the Visayas ace and former Rain or Shine draft pick Gayford Rodriguez and ex-USJ-R big man Mannie Gabas.
Veteran coach Jun Noel, Mantilla’s coach in his last season for the Jaguars, said that his former ward is ready to take the next step in his career.
“Now that he has already finished with his studies, he can now concentrate on basketball. He’s ready. He has the skills, he just needs the confidence because at times, he’s apprehensive about shooting the basketball,” said Noel.
“Just be himself, that’s all he needs to do,” Noel added.