PBA Finals: Vic Manuel ‘happy, nervous’ in timely return for San Miguel

San Miguel Beermen big man Vic Manuel during the PBA Philippine Cup Finals Game 4 vs Meralco Bolts.

San Miguel Beermen big man Vic Manuel during the PBA Philippine Cup Finals Game 4 vs Meralco Bolts. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

SCHEDULE: PBA Finals San Miguel vs Meralco

MANILA, Philippines—It’s been a long time since he last saw action, but Vic Manuel returned at the most opportune time for San Miguel Beermen.

Manuel has been in and out of the injured list for quite some time, but San Miguel Jorge Gallent believed that the “Muscle Man” was ready for action in the grandest stage in the PBA Philippine Cup.

“I’m very happy, but at the same time a bit nervous,” Manuel told Inquirer Sports in Filipino after the Beermen’s 111-101 win in Game 4 on Wednesday.

“I was gone for a while and my first game back is in the Finals. I just prepared myself because they told me to get ready yesterday in case I might be used. I told them I was always ready.

READ: PBA Finals: San Miguel gets back at Meralco to tie series at 2-2

“They also told me that no matter how many minutes would be given to me, just give everything that I could do to help the team.”

Manuel did the most out of his seven minutes on the court, immediately showing his impact for San Miguel Beer despite a long lay-off.

And he certainly showed why he was the recipient of the 2018 Quality Minutes award as he finished with eight points and two rebounds, missing only one shot out of four tries.

It was a glimpse of the dominant side of Manuel before his run with the Beermen was hampered by several lingering injuries.

READ: Bad news for San Miguel foes: Vic Manuel nears full recovery

Last year, he suffered a left leg injury which had kept him out of action for the majority of the Governors’ Cup.

That injury would continue to keep Manuel out of action in this year’s Commissioner’s Cup before he managed to check in more in the ongoing Philippine Cup.

“I’ve been dealing with this [leg injury] since last year. It’s been a long time since I played an actual game because all we did was a walkthrough in practice and  we didn’t play 5-on-5, and before we got to the Finals, I got sick so at least I got a little rest.”

All of Manuel’s setbacks were just fuel for his gradual comeback on the playing court and Gallent is certainly taking notice of it.

“I’m really happy with Vic. Even if he had limited minutes, he really helped us a lot. His quality minutes were really great and he helped the team in today’s victory,” said Gallent.

“He’s just getting his breath back and it’s coming back because he’s doing extra work in practice. He wants his timing back and I’m sure it’s going to come back, I just hope it’s soon,” the veteran tactician added.

Should Manuel’s minutes in the Finals increase or decrease in the now-virtual best-of-three series, one thing is for sure: he will give his best as someone who’s already been in the grandest stage before.

“I’m already a veteran when it comes the Finals and the PBA so whatever challenge is given to me, I’m ready. No matter how many minutes they give me, I’ll give my best.”