Manuel traded to Fuel Masters

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    GETTING his wish, Vic Manuel is now out of Alaska and has joined Phoenix.

    Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso confirmed this to Malaya-Business Insight, saying the Aces and Fuel Masters agreed to the deal late Monday and the trade papers approved by the PBA yesterday afternoon.

    “Happy kami and we’re hoping Vic is happy also. ‘Yung gusto niya nangyari. Ngayon, we can all move forward,” said Cariaso.

    Under the terms of the deal, Alaska gets Brian Heruela and the teams will swaps picks in the first and second rounds of the March 14 rookie draft.

    That means the Aces will now pick at Nos. 6 and 16 and the Fuel Masters at Nos. 7 and 19 overall.

    Manuel signed a one-year offer from Alaska last Monday night that paved the way for the trade.

    The 33-year-old forward will take over the spot vacated by Calvin Abueva, who got traded to Magnolia just last week.

    At first glance, Alaska seems to be at a disadvantage since it gave away a player of the caliber of Manuel, a former Mr. Quality Minutes and Order of Merit awardee, while Heruela is a veritable journeyman guard now suiting up for his fifth PBA team. The University of Cebu alumnus got thrown into the trade just to get PBA approval.

    Not so fast, according to Cariaso.

    “Feeling ko baka maging blessing sa amin si Heruela, kasi unang-una hard worker, grabe work ethics, tapos nag-improve naman laro niya,” said Cariaso. “So excited kami kung ano maibibigay nu’ng Brian Heruela.”

    The real plus for Cariaso in the trade, however, are the picks, especially in the first round.

    “Now may better chance kami na makuha gusto namin. Excited kami doon sa kung sino available, lalo na sa No. 6,” said Cariaso.

    “Feeling namin iba caliber ng top picks ngayon sa draft na ito. Kung hindi papasok mga Fil-Ams na waiting pa ng papeles nila, may mga picks na na-identify namin na best talent among the draftees,” added Cariaso. “Kaya hyped kami mag-move up maski sabihin mong isang slot lang.”

    Picking ahead of Alaska are Terrafirma, NorthPort, NLEX (picking at Nos. 3 and 4) and Rain or Shine. Cariaso already has his sights set on three players whom he has already invited to Alaska’s ongoing small group workouts.

    “Mikey Williams, Leonard Santillan or Ben Adamos,” narrated Cariaso. “Very hyped kami. ‘Nagustuhan namin ‘yung dalawang bigs.”