UAAP Basketball

Long time coming: Racela raves as AP Manlapaz breaks out after injury battle

JR Isaga
Long time coming: Racela raves as AP Manlapaz breaks out after injury battle

SOARING AGAIN. Fit-again Adamson high-flyer AP Manlapaz handles the ball at the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament

UAAP Season 85 Media Team

Fit-again Adamson forward AP Manlapaz, who once dunked on Kai Sotto in high school preseason, soars again at a critical juncture in the Falcons' ongoing UAAP Season 85 Final Four bid

MANILA, Philippines – Remember that kid who once dunked on Kai Sotto in a high school preseason game back in 2017?

Five years later, that walking highlight reel, AP Manlapaz, is now a key part of the Adamson Soaring Falcons’ future, but has so far been weighed down with nagging knee issues dating back before UAAP Season 84.

However, just when Adamson needed all the firepower it can get in the late stretch of its Season 85 Final Four push, the 6-foot-4 forward finally had his breakout moment in the seniors division with a 22-point eruption in just 16 minutes against no less than the top-seeded Ateneo Blue Eagles.

Although the Falcons still lost, 66-61, and got denied of an outright hold at the fourth seed, it was Manlapaz who stirred the squad’s hopes not only in that particular game, but in their next one as well: a do-or-die No. 4 playoff with the severely depleted La Salle Green Archers on Sunday, December 4.

“Mixed emotions. I’m happy that I finally returned to the game with longer playing minutes, but we lost,” Manlapaz said in Filipino.

“We still have a chance on Sunday, so we can still return.”

For Adamson head coach Nash Racela, Manlapaz’s offensive eruption – including a 10-point spurt in the final 2:35 of the third quarter – was just the kind of morale boost the Falcons needed as they continue to battle injuries to their top stars like Jerom Lastimosa and Lenda Douanga at a critical juncture.

“We’re happy that he’s available. We’ve been waiting for him. I explained to coach Mike [Fermin] and to [AP] that during those times where teams were really attacking Jerom, that’s when we really needed a player like AP,” Racela said of the 21-year-old sophomore.

“He wasn’t really available [for most of the season], but that’s okay. At least, moving forward, we have him. We’re confident he’ll be able to give us minutes. Hopefully, he can sustain it or play longer. He’ll get there. He hasn’t been used to playing anymore.”

With Adamson lacking consistent offensive options in the wings, Manlapaz can hopefully help push the Falcons over the Archers’ hump and finally back into the Final Four. –

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