MANILA—"Family ko si Bright (Akhuetie)."
Those were the words of Jun Manzo, the departing team captain of the University of the Philippine Fighting Maroons, after fouling out in the crucial stretch of the fourth quarter to send limping teammate Bright Akhuetie back to the bench.
Manzo, who has exhausted his playing years with the Maroons, left his last UAAP game with 2:33 remaining in the game against eventual winner University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers, committing his fifth foul to let Akhuetie, who was down on the floor, take a breather because of cramps.
Manzo said he was unaware he as in foul trouble.
"Akala ko kasi third foul ko lang kaya finoul ko. Nakita ko si Bright na nakahiga sa court kanina. Di ko in-expect na fouled out na pala ako," Manzo said.
The 5-foot-9 guard was in tears, as he walked toward the Maroons bench but stressed he would still foul for his teammate.
" 'Yun pa rin gagawin ko kasi family ko si Bright so hindi ko hahayaang may mangyari sa kaniya so gagawin ko pa rin 'yung foul," Manzo said. "Umiyak lang ako kasi nakakalungkot na hindi namin naabot 'yung goal namin na umabot ng finals."
While he acknowledged he felt sad leaving the court, Manzo said he believes his teammates could pull off the much-needed win. But Renzo Subido of the Tigers hit the dagger long trey in the dying seconds of the game.
"Nalulungkot ako kasi kaunti na lang, last 2 minutes na lang. Ginawa ko (to foul), pero di ko pagsisisihan 'yun," he reiterated.
Meanwhile, Manzo is eyeing to join the pro-league draft this year should he complete the required number of played games in the D-League for all PBA applicants.
If he missed the cut, Manzo said he will spend some time in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League before returning to the D-League in January.
UP head coach Bo Perasol, on the other hand, is not doubting his graduating leader's chances in commercial leagues, boasting how a good team player he is.
"He is going to be a gem for the coaches who's going to get him. Probably, he's not going to be the star right away, but he's going to be a tremendous back-up, tremendous member of the team," Perasol said.
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