Cariaso sets record straight, says team reached out to big man Manuel | Inquirer Sports
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Cariaso sets record straight, says team reached out to big man Manuel

/ 05:00 AM January 10, 2021

Immediately after being sent packing in last year’s Philippine Cup, Vic Manuel went live on Facebook to assure Alaska fans that the Aces would be back stronger.

The question is, will Manuel be part of that comeback?

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Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso on Saturday cleared the air surrounding the team’s bruising star, who recently expressed his desire to be traded away.

“[The] management met with Vic’s representative and agent on Dec. 26— the first day of negotiation—five days before [his contract] expires,” the Aces mentor told the Inquirer in a message.

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“[On] Dec. 31, the management followed up on the offer to see where it stood with (Manuel’s) camp, [to which his] agent replied, ‘Still thinking about it.’”

Cariaso stressed it is “incorrect to claim that Alaska did not reach out,” and that the club actually offered Manuel a two-year maximum deal with a clause for the final year.

On Friday, Manuel, known in basketball circles as the “Muscle Man,” asserted in a media report that the Aces management was lowballing him with just a one-year deal. Several other reports said he was seeking a trade out of Alaska.

Picked 9th overall in the 2012 Rookie Draft, Manuel bounced around three teams before finding a home in Alaska in 2014. There, he grew into a low-post threat and high-IQ big man who was an integral cog in the Aces squad that made the Finals five times from 2014 to 2018.

His marked improvement led to his biggest moment in 2019, when he was handpicked by coach Tim Cone to backstop the all-pro Southeast Asian Games squad that tabbed the gold medal.

Cariaso said he and Manuel met on Friday night, where the latter “was able to share … his concerns, plans and desires.”

“He candidly expressed that his contract situation at almost 34 years old, which makes him constantly think about his family’s life after his career,” Cariaso said. “Of course, this thought is perfectly understood.”

“Not only by one—but three coaches—coach Danny (Ildefonso), coach Tony (dela Cruz), and I—as we were all former players,” the soft-spoken coach said.

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TAGS: Alaska Aces, Jeff Cariaso, Vic Manuel
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