Wednesday morning, Jett Manuel officially threw his name in the PBA Draft. And this was the culmination of Manuel’s hard work both on and off the court to hone his craft.
“I just felt that it was the right time. I finished and accomplished all I could for UP in the UAAP, I got my civil engineering license,” shared the 25-year-old combo guard, who passed the engineering board exams last May.
“I spoke to my parents, trainer, manager Mel Macasaquit and all of us are aligned that this is the right move for my basketball career.”
Manuel spent six years in the confines of UP, training in the States back in 2013. When he returned to the Fighting Maroons in 2015, he did not lose a step, becoming a core piece in the program’s turnaround. During his super senior year, he posted norms of 15.0 points on 40.3 percent shooting to go along with 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
But after playing his final game with UP last November 13, 2016, the 6-foot-2 guard disappeared from the limelight.
“It was really more of going back to basics for me, perfecting my shot, taking away the little bad habits that I felt I wouldn’t have gotten done if I played for commercial teams at that time,” reflected Manuel, who skipped the 2017 PBA D-League season.
“So with that time and after measuring myself internationally, I really feel like I’m ready for the pros.”
Nine months into the year, Manuel returned in a big way, joining the tryouts for the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas team competing in the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup. Surprisingly, he was in the best shape of his life.
Manuel went on to average 6.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 18.8 minutes in the tournament that featured the best of the best in Asia.
With his string of good outings in Chenzhou, China, he hopes that it opened the eyes of scouts.
“I see myself as a legit combo guard. I like playing defense and fitting into a system. I was never the type of player to just get the ball and go freestyle,” he shared.
“I’ve always preferred fitting into a system of a coach, I think that’s why I enjoyed playing for coach Chot [Reyes] with the limited time that I had and of course my shooting.”
Still, with the draft just days away, Manuel is cramming all that he can before the biggest day for aspirants.
“I need to work more on my ability to work with the ball, to be more comfortable bringing the ball down, and setting up plays,” he disclosed.
“I want to make a great transition to the point guard position so that I can play both guard positions flawlessly.”