In the dying moments of last Tuesday’s quarterfinal matchup against Magnolia, Vic “The Muscle Man” took it to himself to seal the deal. With just 90 seconds left in regulation, Manuel pulled up from the left-side elbow and drained a cold-blooded jumper – defeating the Hotshots 89-78 and sending the Aces to the final four stage of the Commissioner’s Cup for the first time in two years.
No surprises there.
Manuel’s been putting up big performances all conference-long. The improvement he’s shown this year is impeccable and outstanding. According to fellow Aces teammate Diamon Simpson, “Vic is amazing.” The 30-year old big man has begun to show signs of an upgraded mid-range game and has started to play smarter, more controlled this time around. The results, of course, speak for themselves, with the big man racking up an eleven-game streak of scoring 20+ points in a game.
This conference, Manuel has looked significantly quicker and has prioritized scoring more than ever (24.18 PPG). In fact, he’s bested his scoring highs three times already this conference.
The Muscle Man, who’s spent a majority of his career banging bodies in the paint, has learned to extend the defense with a lethal 18-foot jumper. Not only does this mean bad news for his defenders, but has also given Alaska another offensive option – an option willing to create for his own baskets.
Last June, Manuel expressed that his improved play had been inspired by his idol and PBA legend Danny Ildefonso. According to reports, Danny I. has been working closely with Manuel during practices, teaching the Muscle Man a few moves of his own. It’s paid off, clearly. Now, Manuel’s the leading scorer in the league. More importantly, he stands as the cornerstone for the Aces offensive success.
His performance against Magnolia was a testament to his continuous hard work in practice and learning from the greats. As the Aces enter a tougher stage against a tougher San Miguel squad, it’ll be interesting how Manuel adjusts to the pressure. But as he’s shown all season long, you can always count on him to deliver.
Moving forward, Aces fans can expect the #NeverQuitSquad to sustain their defensive energy, blitzing at SMB’s quick guards on the pick n’ roll scenarios. Vic Manuel has been key in stopping two-man games on the defensive end – showing hard as guards begin to create.