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Manuel earns Cone praise in Gilas Pilipinas debut

MANILA, Philippines – Vic Manuel isn't called "The Muscle Man" for nothing. 

It didn't take long for Manuel to make an impression in his Gilas Pilipinas debut as he flexed his muscles against Singapore in a 110-58 romp in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games on Wednesday, December 4. 

Although part of the third group – and the last to be fielded by coach Tim Cone alongside Greg Slaughter – Manuel scattered 14 points in just 10 minutes of play, making 7 of his 9 shots and collaring 4 rebounds. 

"He is the Muscle Man. I don't want to embarrass him, but he displayed that tonight," Cone said as he sat beside Manuel in the post-game press conference. 

"[Manuel is] not just a banger, but he can get inside and create space for himself, he can step out and has a feathery jumpshot. He's versatile [and] he can guard different types of players," Cone added. 

"I think he'll be good at any level, but I think he's especially good at this level." 

Although it can be argued that most of his points came in garbage time, Manuel only took to heart what Cone wanted in the run-up to the SEA Games. 

With Gilas Pilipinas tagged as the heavy favorites to win the gold medal in dominant fashion, Cone still stressed that no opponent should be taken lightly and the game should always be played the right way.

Manuel did just that even with the game all but decided as he scored at will in the final quarter – at one point making a defender fall by his sheer strength in the post before sinking his signature bank shot. 

"I was part of the third group so I needed to be ready because there are plenty of top players in our team. So whatever I can contribute, that will be a big help," Manuel said in a mix of Filipino and English. 

"Whenever I play, I always give my best. I'm not the kind of player who takes things lightly," he added. 

Up next for Gilas Pilipinas is Vietnam on Friday, December 5, at the Mall of Asia Arena. Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.

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