Jett Manuel leaves good impression in belated Ginebra debut
It took a while for Jett Manuel to make his PBA debut, but the Barangay Ginebra rookie certainly had a first game to remember.
Manuel was inserted into the game 17 seconds left in the third quarter with the Gin Kings ahead by 28, 78-50, and went on to play for the rest of the game.
But even in just limited time, Manuel was able to show flashes of brilliance, the same kind of display that made him a star as a University of the Philippines Fighting Maroon back in his collegiate days.
Although the game was virtually over at the time Manuel checked in, Cone still took notice of his play.
“It’s nice to see Jet step out to get his debut and do well. We’ve been seeing that in practice what you saw today,” Cone said after the Gin Kings crushed the Picanto, 103-77.
Manuel had eight points, including a rare four-point play that triggered a frenzied celebration from his teammates and Ginebra fans at Mall of Asia Arena, and two assists.
The 24-year-old guard, however, couldn’t care any less for his stats. What stood out for him is the final score.
“I’m just really happy that we got the win. We needed the win and coach has emphasized that we have to treat this game like its’ a playoff game, ’cause it’s a must-win for us,” he said. “So more than myself, I was just really happy that the team won. We’re getting back into it, and I hope this is the start of a better ending for the conference.”
His first points in the PBA was a jumper from the left baseline and he didn’t even think about celebrating.
“Get back on defense,” he said with a chuckle when asked what went through his mind when he made his first basket. “That’s what Coach Tim wants me to get a habit of, because he always tells me in practice that he’s forming habits for me. So when I made that shot, I wasn’t really thinking of anything spectacular. It’s just that ‘where’s my man?'”
Manuel hopes to have made a good account of himself that it led to building Cone’s faith in him.
“All players want to play. We want to contribute. I’m not here to say that I’m gonna lift the franchise to another level or anything like that,” he said. “I’m happy where I am, and I’m just learning a lot as much as I can. So I’m hoping that this is the start that coach Tim trusts me that I can contribute in whatever way. Like I said, I just wanna stay ready.”
Manuel, who was the last pick in the first round of the 2017 PBA Draft, may have established that trust that he would just have to nurture as he gets more opportunities along the way.
“As you know, I’m not a guy that throw guys into the fire. They have to work their way up the ladder and he’s done a good job of working his way out,” Cone said. “So every time you go out and do something like that, as a young player, you build trust as you go out to play in big moments. So, it was a big moment for him this time.”
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