ALASKA workhorse Vic Manuel has expressed his readiness to join the Gilas Pilipinas pool if needed.
Manuel, easily the most impressive Alaska player in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals against San Miguel, bared that it has always been his dream to play for the national team.
“Kung mai-invite ako, game ako,” said Manuel while rushing to be at the Gatorade Hoops Center earlier than the 2 p.m. call time of the Alaska coaching staff for practice on Wednesday.
So eager is Manuel to become part of the national team that he is willing to personally talk to Alaska team owner Wilfred Uytengsu to get his consent.
“Kahit ako pa magpaalam kay Boss Wilfred, kung ma-i-invite ako. Alam naman natin lahat na all out suporta ni boss sa national team,” he said with a laugh.
“Saka, okay naman ako roon kasi andun na si Calvin (Abueva) eh. Hindi na ko gaano mag-aadjust,” added the hard-banging former PBA D-League and PBL MVP.
[See Vic Manuel shrugs off talk on Finals MVP, says focus on winning title for Alaska]
With one of the Fiba Olympic qualifiers set to be held in Manila this July, Manuel said it will be a big honor to don the country’s colors as this will mean playing in front of a huge Philippine crowd.
“Yun ang gusto ko eh. Mas ganado ako maglaro pagka madami tayong kababayan na sumusuporta at humihiyaw para sa atin,” he said.
Manuel also bared he wants to put on the basketball map his hometown of Licab in Nueva Ecija and Subic in Zambales, which he believes will be given due mention once he performs well in the tournament.
“Gusto ko din kasing makilala ng Pilipinas at ng mundo ang lugar na pinagmulan ko. Malay mo mapansin nila tayo, malalaman nila na sa mga liblib na lugar gaya ng Licab, eh may mga mahuhusay palang produkto ng basketbol dun,” said the Alaska forward.
The 28-year-old former PSBA Jaguar is one of the frontrunners for the Finals MVP award with averages of 21 points, six rebounds, two assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in Alaska’s wins in the first two games of the PBA Finals.
He is averaging 15.33 points, 7.39 rebounds, 1.22 assists and 1.17 steals per game this season.
[See Manuel stands tall again, helps Alaska take 2-0 lead over SMB]
“Laro lang naman ako. Ayaw kong magpapetiks. Kasi binabayaran ako at inaasahan ako ng fans para magpakita ng higit sa one hundred percent ko kada laro,” he said.
Informed about the clamor from fans to see him with Gilas, Manuel was flattered.
“Sobrang saya ko kasi marami ngang fans nagsasabi na bakit hindi ako mag-Gilas. Natutuwa ako kasi nare-recognize na nila ang mga pagsisikap ko. Salamat sa kanila,” he said.