HE managed to juggle two ultimate tasks of being a student-athlete, so what’s the pressure of playing for the PBA’s most popular team?
Jett Manuel is embracing the pressure of wearing the Barangay Ginebra uniform after the Gin Kings made him their first-round pick and 12th overall in the rookie draft last Sunday.
The former University of the Philippine star is nothing new to pressure, having balanced preparing for the Civil Engineering board exam while also training for the rookie draft earlier this year.
Now, probably the first licensed engineer to be drafted in the league is eager to make the Gin Kings and their fans proud.
“For me naman, any team has pressure, but it’s magnified in Ginebra because of the fanbase and the history of the team,” Manuel said. “As I approach everything else, I take it as a challenge. As a player, I'm just excited to live up to the expectations that come with it.”
“Being part of the most storied franchise in the league is a huge blessing,” he added. “I am just thankful for this opportunity that they are giving me and I promise that I won't disappoint them.”
Ginebra fans have already welcomed him with open arms. Having only 3,400-plus Twitter followers at the moment he was drafted, Manuel has almost doubled his follower count to nearly 6,300+ only two days later on Tuesday.
Landing at Ginebra was a bit of a surprise for Manuel, who thought he would hear his name get called in the second round.
“All throughout I was sweating, playing every possible scenario that can come up,” he recounted. “I was just really nervous. I expected myself to be mid to late first round or even early second round, but it was both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.”
With the waiting game over, Manuel is relishing the chance to pick the brain of Gin Kings coach Tim Cone as well as star point guard LA Tenorio.
“Coach Tim Cone is one of the best basketball minds in the country,” Manuel said. “I'm just excited to learn under him because I'm still a student of the game, I just want to learn, learn, and learn. Who better to learn from than coach Tim?”
“I'm really excited to play with LA,” he added. “As I said, I want to learn more. My goal to be a combo guard? Who better than to learn from one of the best in this generation to play in that position?”