VIC Manuel admitted he is still groping psychologically as he played his first official game for Alaska in three months on Sunday in their 100-96 loss to Meralco in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
While saying he is already fully fit after a right calf strain sidelined him beginning in mid-July or in the Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals against Tropang TNT, the workhorse forward admitted he has yet to bring back his A-game in the Aces’ conference debut.
“Sa tingin ko, one-hundred percent naman. Kaya ko naman igalaw yung galaw ko, pero may time na naiilang talaga ako, lalo na pag tumatalon ako,” Manuel told SPIN.ph after the game. “Baka pag bumagsak ako, bumigay eh.”
“Siguro dahan-dahan pa rin 'yung pag-balik ko eh. Parang nakakatakot kasi baka bumalik yung injury,” he added. “So tuloy-tuloy ko pa rin yung ginagawa kong strengthening tsaka rehab.”
Manuel, who led the Aces in scoring in the Philipine Cup, seemed to take it slow as he registered only six points on 3-of-7 shooting and five rebounds against five fouls and two turnovers in 14 minutes.
The Aces star big man, though, did extra heavy lifting when it mattered, scoring on a putback that pulled them to within 99-96 with under 30 seconds remaining.
“Inaalalayan ko pa, pero okay lang kasi first game lang naman eh,” Manuel said. “Siguro next game, pwede na ako dumiin na ulit.”
“Sobrang excited ako makabalik eh,” he added. “Masaya, syempre, kasi nakalaro na ulit. Kahit papaano, nakakatulong na ulit sa team.”