VIC Manuel and Alaska may yet come to terms and extend their seven-year relationship.
But Manuel, 33, has his next dream destination charted out, just in case.
In the first interview that Manuel granted since news came out he wanted out of the Aces, the “Muscle Man” maintained the Uytengsu-owned franchise has a special place in his heart.
“Alam mo naman na love ko yung Alaska. Diyan ako tumagal,” Manuel said in a recent Sports All-In vodcast hosted by his former Cebuana Lhuiller head coach, Beaujing Acot.
“Dati journeyman ako at every conference bago ang team ko. Nandiyan ‘yung love and respect ko sa Alaska,” added Manuel. “Pero kung anuman ang mangyayari, hindi natin masabi.”
Manuel wants out because the contract being offered by Alaska is vastly different from what he wants.
Manuel, according to his agent, Danny Espiritu, was expecting at least a three-year maximum extension that would amount to approximately P15,120,000 spread over 36 months. What Alaska offered was a two-year max, with the second year being a team option and no extension until 2023.
Aces coach Jeffrey Cariaso expounded on management’s decision during a one-on-one meeting with Manuel last Friday.
That only resulted in Manuel making public his desire to try his luck elsewhere, with Phoenix Super LPG, San Miguel Beer and NLEX as his preferred next stop.
Joining the Fuel Masters will reunite Manuel with his old friend, Calvin Abueva, and coach Topex Robinson, the former’s first PBA D-League coach way back in 2011 and one of the assistants in Alaska from 2014 to 2017.
“Gusto ko si Coach Topex simula ng nasa Alaska pa kami. Si Coach Topex din head coach ko sa unang team na kumuha sa akin sa D-League,” Manule, of Licab, Nueva Ecija, said.
Old friendships and starting new ones would also happen should Manuel latch on with either the Beermen or the Road Warriors.
“Before pa ako maglaro, sobrang paborito kong team ang San Miguel. Laging ko pinapanood ‘yan, sina Coach Olsen (Racela), Danny (Ildefonso), at Dondon (Hontiveros).
Talagang sinusuportahan ko dati ‘yan. Nakekuwento ko ‘yan kila Danny I at Dondon noon kasi naabutan ko sila sa Alaska,” he said. “Tsaka kaibigan ko rin si Arwind (Santos).”
Being under the tutelage of NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao, Manuel feels, would bring about another positive chapter in his game and career.
“Noong nagsimula ako, gusto kong nang lumipat sa Rain or Shine talaga dahil kay Coach Yeng. Kasi parang pagdating ko sa PBA, ‘yung talagang laro ko hindi ko pa nailalabas o napapakita,” said Manuel.
“Favorite ko maglaro ng pick-and-roll dati. ‘Yun ‘yung gusto ko maipakita ngayon. Feeling ko malalabas ni Coach Yeng ‘yun.”
A continued stay in Alaska still remains a distinct possibility and that would suit Manuel just fine.