JOAQUI Manuel is starting to carve his own niche in basketball as one of the key pieces of the Ateneo Blue Eaglets in the UAAP.
The younger brother of Ginebra rookie Jett, Manuel is one of the underrated players in the Blue Eaglets side, playing in shadows of Kai Sotto, SJ Belangel, and Dave Ildefonso for a team that's now on a 10-game win streak.
So far, he has been doing well with Ateneo as he is averaging 11.1 points and 9.7 rebounds in UAAP Season 80. He also collected 10 triples, the most in the team.
But the 6-foot-3 player doesn’t mind not getting much attention even as he is on the verge of following the path of his brother who starred for University of the Philippines in the UAAP college ranks.
For him, playing his role with the team is the most important thing.
“Playing with a team with that much talent, I feel like I have to find my role and my role is to get rebounds. I’m just focusing on that thing,” said Manuel, 18.
A former standout at Xavier School, Manuel said he is making the extra effort to do the dirty work, a far cry from his days with the Stallions.
“Comparing to when I was in Xavier, I had to do everything. But now, I just have to do my role and to do it consistently so the team can improve,” said Manuel.
Manuel is actually the youngest among the basketball-playing brothers with Jett now in the PBA and Juan with La Salle. He, however, is the tallest among them. Still, he’s keen on learning from his elders, particularly Jett who is regularly spotted at Eaglets games over the past two seasons.
“Always make the good basketball play,” said Manuel, when asked what is Jett’s usual advice. ”Instead of doing it yourself, always do a good basketball play in the game. It’s not what stats you do but how effective you can be on the court so that you can help make your teams better,”
The youngster, however, acknowledges he needs to transform his game being a 6-foot-3 forward in high school, hoping that he could play similar to his older brother when he reaches college.
“At 6-foot-3, I should be dribbling more, I should be more effective with the ball, and that’s what I’m preparing myself for also for college. I know there will be imports and I’ll still be 6-foot-3 so I have to work on my craft,” said Manuel.