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    Sat, Aug 20

    JEFF Manday is full of joy after San Miguel decided to sign him for the 3x3 team in the PBA. The Bacolod native officially became part of the Beermen after he signed a contract despite being the sixth-round pick of the ballclub.

    All the hardwork through the years paid off for the 26-year-old Manday.

    “Sabi ko nga nung nakapirma ako, ‘yung tinik sa lalamunan ko, binunot na eh,” said Manday, who thanked his supporters Ramon Paolo Cruz, Paul Oliver Cruz, agent Danny Espiritu, Sta. Ana Family, and Rigpoint for their help in his long journey.

    Manday became a household name in Negros Occidental when he suited up for Colegio de Santa Ana de Victorias, winning three straight Nopsscea titles along with three consecutive MVP trophies. The 6-foot Manday also helped his school win Prisaa and University Games championships after being pitted against Metro Manila teams.

    His efforts earned him a spot with Marinerong Pilipino in the 2020 PBA D-League after showing up in a tryout. In that stint, it looked like Manday’s basketball career was on the rise.

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    Marinerong Pilipino Jeff Manday

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    That changed during the pandemic.

    Challenges during the lockdown

    Following the lockdown, Manday’s basketball career took a backseat as he was forced to go back home to Bacolod. With basketball leagues at a halt and without a stable job, Manday chose to sell fruits and fish in order to help his parents as well as tend to his needs.

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    “Umuwi muna ako sa amin,” Manday recalled. “Tambay, benta ng mga prutas, benta ako ng mga isda. Nagiikot ikot ako.”

    During those dry days, Manday also asked his managers for support, which they gladly did.

    “Minsan parang gipit na ako, tatawag na ako sa mga boss ko. Willing naman sila tumulong. Binigyan nila ako ng allowance. Minsan nga, binebentahan ko mga bossing ko,” said Manday.

    After nearly two months of selling, Manday returned to basketball last November to train, and was encouraged to apply for the PBA Draft through the urging of his bosses and Espiritu.

    Manday is actually not new to overcoming adversities in basketball. Prior to CSAV, Manday was playing without a scholarship at his previous school. His father was a fisherman, but his earnings weren’t enough for his education.

    Fortunately, Manday played an excellent game when his team faced CSAV, and management was immediately impressed that they made a bid to recruit him.

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    “Mahal ang tuition, wala akong allowance, family ko, walang trabaho. Tatay ko nangingisda,” he said.

    “Nakita ako ng mga boss ng Santa Ana na may ibubuga ako. Natalo namin sila. Ang lakas ng line-up nila, natalo namin dahil sa shooting ko,” said Manday.

    Now with a new school, Manday’s name began to flourish and it was at this time that Espiritu contacted him. Later on, Espiritu encouraged him to come to Manila, but Manday, knowing the value of education, opted to stay for the meantime, in order to finish his studies.

    “Parang ‘yung pangalan ko, pumutok. Laging lumalabas sa newspaper. Nakita ako ni boss Danny. Merong nagsabi sa kanya na tiga-Dumaguete na tignan niya daw. Inadd ako ni boss Danny (sa Facebook) tapos sinubaybayan niya ako,” said Manday.

    “Mga two years pa ako bago pumunta dito (Manila). Si boss Danny, sinasabihan ako na pumunta na sa Manila. Sabi ko, ‘Boss, puwede ko ba tapusin ko muna pag-aaral ko, sayang naman. Importante diba? Hindi na mauulit ‘yan. Basketball, nandyan pa yan,” said Manday, who finished with a degree in Office Administration in 2019.

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    Jeff Manday is drafted by San Miguel

    After the challenges during the lockdown, Manday went to Manila to train for the draft, and even got to tryout for San Miguel. As it turned out, the Beermen selected Manday at No. 58 overall during the draft festivities last March. And despite being a late draftee, Manday became the only rookie out of the five that eventually stayed with the ballclub for a shot at a spot in the line-up.

    “Nagulat ako, tinawag ako sa draft. Kala ko hindi ako makukuha kasi isa lang kukunin sa aming lima. Nung naglaro kami, parang nagustuhan ako ni coach (Leo Austria). Pinabalik ako,” Manday said.

    However, Manday had to wait especially with the PBA still in its offseason due to quarantine restrictions, In the meantime, help, especially financially, was sustained by his managers from Negros.

    “Araw araw nga ako nagtetraining. Sabi ko, para sa akin na rin ‘yun na walang sayang na pagkakataon ‘yung pagpunta ko dito,” said Manday.

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    After months of waiting, Manday got the contract he had been waiting for, formally signing with the ballclub on Friday where he will look to lay a foundation with the 3x3 team.

    “Para mabigyan din ako ng break ‘yung laro ko. Kung sa 5-on-5, hindi ako magagamit doon sabi ni coach. Naiintindihan ko naman. Inexplain din naman ni Boss Gee para ma-develop ‘yung experience sa Manila,” said Manday.

    For Manday, though, the journey is only beginning as he vows to work hard to repay the trust given by the Beermen to him, especially with his parents and his family serving as his inspiration.

    “Sila ‘yung talagang kinukuhanan ko ng lakas,” he said.

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      He also thanked the people who supported him beginning from his days in Negros.

      “’Yung tumulong sa akin, ‘yung mga manager ko, ‘yung school namin, lalo na si boss Danny, utang ko ang career ko sa kanila,” said Manday.

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