The Games that Play Us: Jett’s Takeoff

Jett Manuel fried some Tamaraw yesterday.
(image by Ralph Samson/

UP Fighting Maroons over the FEU Tamaraws, 76-63

Jett Manuel has never really been in the spotlight.

I remember him as a high school freshman in my last year of teaching at Xavier back in Academic Year 2006-2007. Even at a young age, he already sported a frame built for basketball. He was tall and had long arms, but wasn’t gangly when he moved.

In his second year, he was part of the 2007 Xavier Milo Passerelle team that upset San Beda, De La Salle-Zobel and Ateneo de Manila to represent NCR in the National Finals. They eventually lost to Holy Child School of Davao, which was led by current Red Lion rookie Baser Amer. If I remember correctly, he was able to crack the Juniors team of Xavier, despite  already being stocked with big names like former-Archer-turned-Cardinal Gab Banal and UST Growling Tigers Jeric Teng and Robin Tan. Jett’s batchmate Paulo Pe was the only freshie to make the Juniors squad the previous year, but he moved to Loyola to suit up for the Blue Eaglets instead.

Jett made the Golden Stallions’ Team A again in his junior year, teaming up with Jeric to extend Xavier’s dominance in the Philippine Athletic Youth Association (PAYA) and the Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association (MMTLBA). His last year in XS saw him team up with Jeric’s younger bro Jeron to continue lording it in the PAYA and MMTLBA.

Jett has always been the Robin to someone else’s Batman, but this season he has been the most amazing revelation. He was never heavily recruited, never in the public’s radar, but he is now proving to be an all-around threat, and a household name, for the UP Fighting Maroons. It seems Jett has always wanted to prove he belonged in the big leagues, and yesterday’s demolition, yes DEMOLITION, of the FEU Tamaraws further fueled his fire.

Manuel scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half en route to leading UP to a magnificent upset. It was UP’s first win over FEU since 2004, and it might just be the shot in the arm Ricky Dandan’s wards need to fan dreams of a Final Four appearance.

Jelo Montecastro was an effective playmaker for UP.
(image by Ralph Samson/
In contrast to their previous game where nobody finished with more than 8 markers, UP produced a quartet of double-digit scorers this time around. Complementing Manuel were Mike SIlungan, Alinko Mbah, and Jelo Montecastro. The foursome combined for 64 of the Maroons’ 76 points.

It was a great game for UP on all fronts. They shot better than FEU from the field and from the line, distributed the ball better, and just showed more grit and hustle.

Bert Flores converses with a referee as Mark Bringas
is escorted out of the playing court.
(image by Ralph Samson/
FEU did try to defend their pride with repeated mini-rallies, but timely hits by the Maroons just kept the Tams at bay. Coach Bert Flores, in a fit of frustration, was called for a T late in the game – it was clear this result was something nobody in Morayta expected. The Green & Gold clearly missed the services of forwards Pipo Noundou and JR Cawaling in this one, and they’ll probably be short one more player when they confront the 6-0 Blue Eagles on Sunday as Mark Bringas was thrown out of the game. His close-fisted smack will likely earn him a suspension. Things are quickly and certainly getting bleak for FEU. After barely escaping against NU and UST, they were finally brought down by UP, and it’ll be a tough uphill battle against Ateneo in a few days time.

The Maroons are lovin' that winning feeling!
(image by Ralph Samson/
UP, on the other hand, can celebrate. Season 74 is now 200% better than the previous one. How many teams can brag about that same thing? If they continue playing this efficiently, then beating UST and Adamson and gaining a 4-3 slate by the end of the 1st round won’t be a pipedream at all.

UP 76 – Manuel 20, Silungan 16, Mbah 14, Montecastro 14, Gamboa 3, Gingerich 2, Juruena 2, Maniego 2, Romero 2, Wong 1, Evangelista 0, Pascual 0, Wierzba 0
FEU 63 – Garcia 17, Ramos 13, Tolomia 12, Bringas 8, Romeo 6, Escoto 2, Exciminiano 2, Knuttel 2, Cruz 1, Fabian 0, Foronda 0, Pogoy 0, Sentcheu 0
QS: 12-12, 28-25, 51-42, 76-63

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