HE gives away a couple of inches and a lot of pounds to Rain or Shine's 'Extra Rice Inc.' frontline, but Vic Manuel says there's no point backing down.
"Syempre hindi ako uurong," said the rugged forward, moments after an 87-80 Alaska victory over the Elasto Painters in the opener of a PBA Philippine Cup semifinal playoff that is bound to only get physical from hereon.
Game One was already marked by a lot of unnecessary contact and cheap shots, and at one point Manuel and Beau Belga stood toe to toe as if they were ready to go 12 rounds at MGM Arena.
But Manuel stood his ground.
"Hindi naman pwedeng sila lang pisikal," said the late-blooming 27-year-old forward from Nueva Ecija who finally found a home at Alaska after forgettable stints with GlobalPort, Air21, and Meralco.
Pag hindi ka lumaban lalabas na takot ka na masisira laro mo. Kaya syempre focus ka sa game, kahit sobrang pisikal nila laban lang," he added.
The 6-3 bruiser, who earned a Best Player citation last week, didn't have a good night offensively in Game One, scoring just four points on 2-of-8 shooting.
But he more than made up for it in some other way, grabbing 10 and dishing out three assists in 24 minutes.
"Medyo masama sa opensa," Manuel told Spin.ph. "Siguro napaghandaan nila (Rain or Shine). Pag natanggap ko sa post 'yung bola, andoon na agad ang help defense ng Rain or Shine.
"So medyo nahirapan ako kaya bawi na lang sa depensa, binabalik ko na lang sa ibang player (ng Alaska) nag-explode naman sila sa game," he added.
The former PBA D-League MVP said the Aces will be ready for Rain or Shine's fightback in Game Two on Saturday and vowed not to back down from any physicality on the court.
There's simply no room for complacency, he added.
"Syempre hindi pwede kumumpyansa mahaba pa ang series," he said. "Adjust kami sa practice ng mga error namin lahat mag-start sa practice."