TIM Cone knew perfectly what he got when he included Vic Manuel in his Gilas Pilipinas roster for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
One of the most hardworking forwards in the league, the Licab, Nueva Ecija native finally got the national team callup he's been dreaming of in this biennial games.
And the Alaska forward wasted no time proving to Cone that he made the right decision.
Manuel had a rousing national team debut, putting up 14 points on a hyper-efficient 7-of-9 shooting, on top of four rebounds in just 10 minutes of play in the Philippines' 110-58 beatdown of Singapore on Wednesday -- much to the delight of the mentor.
"You know, he is 'The Muscle Man'," said Cone, an obvious nod to Manuel's moniker.
"I don't wanna embarrass him, but he displayed that tonight. He's not just a banger, but he can get inside and create space for himself. He can step out and has a feathery jump shot. He's versatile, he can guard different types of players. I think he'll be good at any level, but I think he's especially good at this level."
"Obviously, he's a superstar in the PBA in his own right, but in this level, I think we can use his versatility, and that's the thing we were looking for, and he showed that tonight."
Those words just humbles Manuel, especially coming from a coach of the pedigree of Cone.
"Nakakaproud talaga kasi ang ganda ng mga sinabi niya sa akin," he said.
Manuel understands the depth of the team to know that his minutes in Gilas aren't really that guaranteed.
What's working for the 32-year-old bruiser, though, is his relentless dedication to put the team ahead of himself, a trait he has done throughout his well-travelled basketball career.
"Every time na tatawagin niya ako, ready lang ako," he said. "Yung mindset ko talaga pag tinawag niya ako maglaro, ready ako. Galing ako sa third group pero kailangan talaga ready ako kasi ang daming good players sa team. So kung ano ang ma-contribute ko, malaking bagay na yun."