ANTIPOLO, Philippines – Alaska Aces’ Vic Manuel and San Miguel Beermen’s Arwind Santos may be battling on different sides of the court but they can agree on one thing: playing for the national team.
Manuel and Santos, whose teams are currently vying for a finals berth in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s through a best-of-5 semifinals series, are welcome to potential call-ups from Gilas Pilipinas.
The national squad needs to overhaul its lineup for the second round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers as 10 of its players got suspended by FIBA.
“Kung mabibigyan ng chance, bakit hindi? Syempre malaking bagay ‘yun,” said Manuel after leading the Aces to a 125-104 Game 3 win on Friday, July 20, with his 24 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
(If given a chance, why not? That is a big thing.)
“Syempre ako rin dream ko rin makapaglaro para sa bansa. Syempre, ayun, gusto ko rin makatulong sa kanila.”
(Of course it is my dream to play for the country. And I want to help the Philippines win.)
Since he fully recovered from nagging injuries, Manuel has proven himself as one of the league’s best players.
He and reigning 4-time league Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo are in a tight race for the Best Player of the Conference plum after he averaged a local-leading 24.2 points to go with 6.3 rebounds in the elimination round.
Santos, meanwhile, had already donned the national colors in 2009 with the Powerade Team Pilipinas that landed 8th place in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship.
Even though it has been almost a decade since he suited up for the Philippine team, the former PBA MVP will not back out from the chance of seeing action in the international stage again.
“Wala namang problema. Lalo na’t kasama ko sina Marcio (Lassiter), sina June Mar (Fajardo). Okay sa akin,” the 37-year-old said.
(There is no problem. Especially if I will play with Marcio and June Mar. That is okay with me.)
“Siyempre, sino pa maglalaro sa atin? Kung kailangan, sige. Nandoon lang naman ako.”
(Who else will play for the national team? If they need me, I’m right here.)
The two forwards will duke it out in Game 4 on Sunday, July 22, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com
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