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Jeff Cariaso looking at Vic Manuel to be the pillar of the new-look Alaska squad

by Reynald Magallon, January 29, 2020 12:18am

After taking over just before the third conference last season, Cariaso had made some moves to reform the team that hardly looked like the ones in the Alex Compton era in Alaska. However, there's one thing that Aces head tactician wanted to retain - and that's to keep Manuel as its pillar as they move to the new age at the Aces camp.

"He's with us and that's not even a question. Si Vic I think is someone who's a pillar of the Alaska team. He's a guy that we can heavily rely on," said Cariaso after their Monday afternoon practice.

Rumors of the Manuel's trade had been swirling around since the third conference of the last season although the Aces forward had already shut it down.

In fact, Cariaso stressed that after Manuel's Gilas Pilipinas stint in the SEA Games, he's value to the team becomes higher.

"I think after his stint with the SEA Games, I think that has boosted not only his confidence but also his status on what he really means sa Alaska," quipped the Aces head tactician.

Manuel was part of the Gilas Pilipinas roster handpicked by then Gilas head coach Tim Cone for the regional meet. And just as expected the 6'4" banger made a good account of himself and dominated the tournament to the point that his dominance got compared to the likes of Serbian superstar Nikola Jokic.

In his 11 games in the 2019 Governors' Cup, Manuel averaged 13.64 points and 5.64 rebounds per game while dealing with some injuries early in the conference.

Now healthy, Cariaso expects Manuel to become their leader, alongside long time Aces Jvee Casio and Sonny Thoss. Alaska had acquired a number of new faces since last conference with Maverick Ahanmisi, Abu Tratter, Rodney Brondial and Robbie Herndon.

The Aces also added their draft pick in FEU big man Barkley Ebona and Lyceum's spitfire guard Jaycee Marcelino. They also landed Mike Digregorio in a trade with the TNT Katropa just a few weeks ago.

With more time now to get acclimated to Cariaso's system, and the boosted confidence from the national team stint, the Aces head coach is expecting a lot from Manuel.

"We're hoping that he'll use that stint with them to really lead our team in a way where it's needed."

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