Myth of the Slayer
Over at Adamson University, the usual scenes unfold: The logjam on San Marcelino street, the stream of students in a bottleneck at the front gate, the midday bells of the nearby chapel ringing for prayer.
It’s just another day at the nest of the Soaring Falcons, who despite having one game left to play, are now preparing for University of the Philippines.
The same can be said for graduating player Sean Manganti, who many in Malate and Katipunan hail as the “UP Killer.”
“People are gonna say things,” Manganti told the Inquirer with a wry smile on Friday afternoon shortly after team practice. “For me, though, I’m excited about the game.”
“I think us and them, we got the best crowd in the league so it’s gonna be a fun game,” he added.
Manganti’s name has been a harbinger of sorts for the Maroons. Ball in his hands, dying seconds. That always sets the tone for a UP heartache lately.
That began in Season 80, when he cleaned up import Papi Sarr’s miss with a tip-in to win the game for the Falcons with a tenth of a second remaining.
This season, he’s added two daggers to the list: A game-winning basket in the first round and a clutch triple that deflated a UP rally in the second round.
So much so that there’s been only two words to kick off an interview with UP coach Bo Perasol nowadays.
“He’d been playing well against us,” Perasol said. “It’s something we need to address.”
But for a coach preparing for a first Final Four appearance in 21 years, he doesn’t want his squad overly fixated with Manganti. It’s not just about slaying a slayer. Not with Adamson having the luxury of burning a twice-to-beat advantage.
“To say he’s the one who beat us altogether? I don’t think so,” Perasol said.
“Adamson has a very good team; I think everybody contributes … [and] everybody defends. We need to defend Sean as well, but what’s important is we need to do it as a team.”
Manganti also wants to deflect some of the attention from him, saying that his label as a slayer of sorts is a myth, a basketball urban legend propped by a string of past performances against UP that will have no bearing on the Final Four.
The 6-foot-5 skipper considers the Falcons as a team of UP slayers, with him, Sarr and Jerrick Ahanmisi leading the charge.
“I’m sure their focus is on me, Jerrick and Papi,” said Manganti. “But you know, you can’t put a price on the guys like Simon (Camacho), Jonathan Espeleta, Jerom Lastimosa. Those guys do things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.”
“We have that ‘Next Man Up’ mentality,” Manganti stressed. “Every team needs those type of players and I’m just glad we have those players who could step up, you know.”
“They don’t care ‘bout playing times and nobody in the team cares about stats. Nobody’s a padder. Everyone just wants to win. I think that’s what sets us apart—the collective effort. We all want the same thing, we all have the same goal,” he added.
And the goal is not to extend the Falcons’ mastery of the Maroons. The goal is to end a string of semifinal appearances and finally tab a championship berth.
UP simply happens to be in the way.
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