IT was a night filled with highs and lows before Alaska Aces star forward Vic Manuel finally decided to stay put in a team that has been his home for the last five PBA seasons.
Manuel bared that even before he towed his team to a suprising 106-99 win over Northport, he already vowed to talk to Alaska management about his status in the team amid talk that he and Chris Banchero are on the trading block.
The 32-year old Licab, Nueva Ecija pride admitted that he informed Alaska management of his desire to be traded.
“Actually, bago umalis si coach Alex (Compton), talagang gusto kong ma-trade. Kahit agent ko, kinausap ko at sinabihan na, ‘Boss, baka pwedeg iaalis mo na ko rito’. Kasi that time ang gulo,” Manuel told Spin.ph.
Manuel also revealed that he and Chris Banchero were informed of a possible trade to Phoenix last week, which made his stay with Alaska all the more uncertain.
“Last week, kinausap na kami ng management. Yun nga, mukhang papunta na kami sa Phoenix ni Chris. Tapos biglang nabago, hindi natuloy. Expect ko nga hindi na ako makakalaro kagabi,” he said.
“Si Chris nakausap ko na rin at sabi nga niya, dun na kami at muhang reunion kami with Calvin (Abueva) and coach Louie (Alas),” added the former PSBA Jaguar.
But everything took a different route when news of Banchero being shipped to Magnolia for Rodney Brondial and Robbie Herndon hugged the headlines last Friday.
Although perplexed, Manuel said he channeled his energy into the task at hand. He ended up playing one of his best games this season, tallying 23 points, 10 rebounds and a block to be named Best Player of the Game.
"Kahit naman gusto ko ma-trade dati at kahit gusto ko mag-stay, lagi naman 100 percent ako maglaro para sa team,” he said.
Then came his conversation with his coach. Manuel shared how he initially texted Cariaso to ask about his status.
"Sabi ko, 'Coach, ano ba lagay ko?' Kasi umalis na si Chris, ako ba mate-trade din?” he recalled.
Cariaso's response, Manuel said, almost brought him to tears.
According to Manuel, Cariaso assured him that, one, there are teams inquiring about his availability but there are no plans to trade him; and, two, the coach considers him very much a part of the team.
"Na-touch ako tapos sabi ko nga, stay na ko. Saka nagustuhan ko rin kako yung mga bagong players ng team. Kaya stay na ko,” said Manuel.
Moving forward, the undersized wimgman said he is confident about the potential of new Alaska recruits Brondial and Herndon.
"Makikita nyo, lalabas laro nung dalawa na yun. Ako kumpiyansa ko sa dalawa na yun. Jackpot kami run. Pati yung Abu Tratter [trade for] Carl Bryan Cruz, jackpot kami run,” he said.
"May potensyal ang team namin next season. Relax lang kayo,” he said.