Cebuano ace Jaybie Mantilla returns to USJ-R after bid to join Manila Stars ends on baffling note
Jaybie Mantilla is settling for a comeback with his alma mater after his hoop dreams in the MPBL failed to pan out. Ron Tolin

CEBU CITY – After falling short in his bid to join the Manila Stars in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), reigning Cesafi MVP Jaybie Mantilla has decided to return to the University of San Jose-Recoletos to help the Jaguars contend for a championship in the Cesafi.

Mantilla expressed how disappointed he is with how things turned out for him and the Stars.

“I feel like the sky fell for me. A lot of people were expecting me to take the next step in my basketball career, but unfortunately, there were things that were simply out of my control,” shared Mantilla, who averaged 17.58 points, 7.42 rebounds, 5.25 assists and 2.33 steals en route to being named the Cesafi’s MVP.

Mantilla narrated that he had already been practicing with the Stars for a week but then asked permission to head home to Cebu to settle some school matters and at the same time, attend training for his role as Sangguniang Kabataan chairman in Barangay Suba.

He said that the Stars’ management gave him permission on the condition that he return by May 30. However, a plane ticket to Manila never came, and Mantilla was later told that head coach Philip Cezar had decided to go in another direction.

“After that, I didn’t press on any further since I also understood that I was absent for a week,” shared the spunky 5-foot-8 guard.

The development eventually paved the way for Mantilla's return to the Jaguars, who made it to the semis of the Cesafi last season but got ousted by the University of Cebu inspite of a twice-to-beat advantage.

“I feel comfortable with my decision since there are a lot of familiar faces who have been very welcoming in my return,” Mantilla said. “Now, we just want to not just play in the finals but also take home the championship especially now, that we have a new head coach and a new system that plays to our strengths.”

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