Sean Manganti with father Pepito, who urged his son to consider taking his talents to the Philippines. Handout
Sean Manganti playing in his high school in the US. Handout
Sean Manganti had to do a double take. Seated at the table were Anton Asistio, Alvin Pasaol, and Leonard “Santi” Santillan. There was also former FEU Tamaraw Jonas Villanueva who was in a dual role as playing-coach. “Maybe now, I can win a championship,” thought the 6-foot-5 swingman about the Bataan Risers’ team that will compete in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Basketball League.
So far, Plan B is working out albeit with some bumps on the road.
Growing up in Temecula, Calif., it was Manganti’s goal to make it up the American basketball pyramid — his Plan A. His father, Pepito, on the other hand, urged him to consider the Philippines.
Manganti thought he’d be headed for a D-II school, but ended up with D-3 program, University of Maine, where nothing happened. “After spending a year there, I decided to fly back to California and just train by myself and play in the Filipino summer league. At that point, it was my last option if I wanted to keep going at basketball,” he said.
The elder Manganti then asked him to take a second look at the Philippines. “I didn’t know much about Philippine basketball,” said Sean of those days. “All the knowledge that I had came from my dad. He would talk about it and it sort of gave me a backup plan. But it should have been Plan A from the very beginning.”
Several Philippine schools tried to bring over Manganti to their program in Manila. But he selected Adamson University, “because they were the most persistent,” recalled of that decision.
“And I wanted to be somewhere where I was wanted,” he added, somewhat of a jab to the half-hearted pitches of other UAAP schools.
“My three years with Adamson? I am forever grateful to them. They were the best years of my life thus far. They will always have a special place in my heart.”
Life at the San Marcelino school wasn’t easy.
Of the many memories and episodes while studying and playing for the school, Manganti looked back fondly at the time when he and former teammates Robbie Manalang and Jonathan Espeleta returned to the dorm after a tiring workout and sit in a circle and talk about their school. “We reflected on the reputation of Adamson and we talked about how we could bring the school back to the final 4 and make them relevant again. At that time, we were in Team B and we would routinely beat Team A in scrimmages. We knew we had the right mix of players and could compete for a title,” Manganti said.
The Soaring Falcons led the league for the first eight games of the season then gradually slipped down the ladder. They still managed to secure a twice-to-beat advantage in the final 4, but were taken down by peaking UP. “I don’t know if I will ever get over that semis outcome,” Sean revealed. “The word that always pops up in my mind is ‘sayang.’ We could have brought Adamson to the finals for the third time in their history. It is also complicated, because I worked my butt off for that season.
“I don’t think that anyone who followed Adamson during the last summer really expected me to be that caliber of a player. The numbers and the accolades don’t lie.”
Manganti, who averaged 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.3 steals per game for Adamson, pocketed the Most Improved Player and the Bankable Player of the Season awards.
For now, he will be playing for Che’ Lu in the D-League and for the Bataan Risers’ 3x3 squad. “I am super excited to play for the Bataan 3x3 team,” gushed Manganti. “Our team is composed of a great bunch of guys and I think we can win the whole thing.”
Several years ago, he was almost out of options for his young basketball career. He is happy that he eventually followed his father’s advice, although a few years late. “And it goes to show that you should always listen to your parents. If I had listened to my dad, I would have been here as early as 2013 and not 2015. But everything happens for a reason. It is in God’s plan,” he said.
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