Blue Eagles shut down Maroons main man Manuel
Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol was surprised to know that his team had completely shut down University of the Philippines’ Jett Manuel —holding the Fighting Maroons’ leading scorer to zero points.
“Was he scoreless?” a stunned Perasol asked a reporter who had mentioned that Manuel didn’t score.
Perasol said the Blue Eagles’ defensive game plan wasn’t entirely focused on Manuel alone but part of the strategy was to make sure that UP’s scorers were covered.
“We planned on defending their attackers but we didn’t plan on eliminating the scoring of Jett Manuel. He’s a very good player, he’s a very good leader of that team. I think it helped our cause also that he didn’t score for them,” said Perasol after the Blue Eagles sent the Fighting Maroons to their fourth loss in a row with a 56-43 beating.
Manuel entered Wednesday’s game averaging a team-high 12.4 points per game and Kiefer Ravena knew stopping UP’s most consistent offensive weapon would also mean disrupting the Maroons’ flow on the offensive end.
Ravena said one of his objectives heading into the game was to keep Manuel from having his usual output.
“Jett is a very capable scorer and coming into the game I was really watching his highlights or his games this season how he’s going to attack, how he’s gonna make his baskets and I made a conscious effort together with the other guys that will be matched up against Jett to focus on Jett himself,” Ravena told reporters.
“Because we don’t want a scorer to get into his groove especially when they made their run. It was big for us that he wasn’t involved when UP made their run.”
Manuel missed all of his seven attempts from the field in close to 19 minutes of action.
Reporters waiting at the Mall of Asia Arena tunnel where players pass on the way to the team bus had to chase Manuel following the game.
“Sunday’s game is a must-win for us no matter what happens,” said Manuel, who aims to bounce back against winless Adamson.
With Manuel checked, the Maroons were left searching for a different offensive source. UP drew 12 points from Paul Desiderio but overall the team shot only 24% from the field.
“He ran out of the change room kind of fast if you guys saw that. I don’t think he really wanted to talk to anybody though. He’s gonna be okay,” said UP co-captain JR Gallarza, who is also good friends with Manuel.
“He’s a marked man in the UAAP right now. He’s not going to dwell on it. I believe in Jet. I know him and we’re really close and I know this is not going to affect him in ways that you guys might think and he’s going to bounce back. No worries.”
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