VIC Manuel is having a tremendous conference, posting All-Star-type numbers for Alaska in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, thanks in large part to his fitness as well as a PBA legend who joined the Alaska coaching staff earlier this year.
Manuel has been instrumental in the Aces’ success in the import-laden conference, emerging as the top offensive option by the Aces in the Commissioner’s Cup. With his rise, the Aces are right atop the team standings, posting a 5-1 record through six games.
When asked about Manuel’s resurgence, Alaska coach Alex Compton said the big man, for one, has been finally healthy after months enduring nagging knee injuries.
“He is healthy,” Compton told SPIN.ph, “which is pretty important to a basketball player. You’ve got to be able to practice and play.”
But perhaps equally important for Manuel this season is the tutelage of one of the greatest players in PBA history, two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso, who is now part of the Alaska coaching staff.
Ildefonso has been credited for the rise of San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo back when they were teammates with the Beermen. And Compton said Ildefonso has been doing the same for Manuel.
“(The) second (thing) is really, spending a lot of time with Danny Ildefonso. Vic is a very gifted scorer. But anytime you get to work every day with one of the best, and then, he is really a good teacher and gets guys going, and learning from him, I think it has really helped.”
“He is healthy, doing the work, and he is also working with coach Danny. Those two things really, doing the extra work with coach Danny, and being healthy has been the biggest thing. It has allowed his natural scoring ability that Vic has to come out,” said Compton.
Compton said Ildefonso has been nothing but a hardworker as an assistant coach for Alaska, and that work ethic has rubbed off on the players, Manuel included.
The Alaska coach has personally seen the difference.
“Vic was a little more laidback before. One of the things with Danny is Danny, until now, he is an exceptional worker. Great work ethic, great example, gets out there, mixes it up with the guys, and really works on them. I think he is a guy really who you can look up to and learn from and it’s one of the things that I told Danny when we hired him.”
“I don’t think that you can talk to any of Danny’s former teammates, and not a single one said, ‘Tamad ‘yan.’ What you’ll hear is the exact opposite. Masipag ‘yan, grabe mag-trabaho ‘yan, grabe magbuhat ‘yan.”
The change in Manuel’s game thanks to Ildefonso’s intervention has reflected in the statistics. This conference, Manuel, through six games, has averaged 23.17 points per outing, way up from his 8.6 points per game outing in 2014-2015, his first full season with Alaska after being traded from Air21 in the previous year.
Manuel is actually the top scorer among the Alaska locals, even tying Alaska import Antonio Campbell in points average for the conference.
“The technique that he can teach, and the work ethic that goes with it, it’s like a double-edge sword. He is not just a guy who works hard, he is an MVP because he works hard and works smart. I think he has been just a great example. That’s one that Vic can follow,” said Compton.
Compton is only hoping that the 30-year-old Manuel can continue to be healthy as his career progresses.
“I think he can still be in better shape,” Compton said. “I think he can keep working to be in better shape. I think there are still things that he can learn from Danny. But all of us in the team recognize that he can score the basketball. He has a special knack for that. I never put limits like that on anybody, but he is playing great. We are obviously happy with the way he is playing.”
“We just want him to stay healthy, that has been a big thing for the past two years. On, off, in, out, not because he wanted to be hurt. It’s just because he got hurt. So being healthy is big,” he concluded.