GRADUATING Maroon Jett Manuel finds himself in unfamiliar territory with the University of the Philippines surprisingly fighting for a Final Four berth in Season 79 of the UAAP men’s basketball — something quite unheard of in past seasons.
But yes, the Fighting Maroons are in the thick of the race for a Final Four slot, with UP in a share of sixth place with University of Santo Tomas owning similar 3-7 win-loss slates.
Usually at the bottom of the team standings by this time, the Maroons aren’t too far behind the Final Four contenders with Ateneo (4-3), Adamson (4-4), and National University (4-5) within sight.
Manuel, however, is pleasantly surprised at how UP is staying competitive this season.
“It’s my fifth year and never naman dumating sa point na napag-usapan ‘yun,” said Manuel, after UP followed up its two-game win streak with a slim loss to league leader La Salle on Saturday.
More than the composure, Manuel said it is discipline that has turned the team around.
“We always talk about discipline and composure. Those are the things that are coming out in the second round. I think there were games that we could have won if we were composed. But that’s over with. I’m doing my part. I try to relay to the team to be composed,” said Manuel.
While still in contention for a postseason berth, Manuel prefers not to think too much about their Final Four chances, saying that he has been in the league for a long time to know that it can all go wrong in a New York minute.
“I want to keep myself grounded,” Manuel said. “I’ve talked to coach Bo (Perasol) and to the team, we don’t want to look at that immediately. We need to play together and keep on improving.”