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Road to title not easy even without Fajardo says Manuel

Vic Manuel I File Photo

MANILA, Philippines -- While uncertainty still shrouds the status of San Miguel Beer star center June Mar Fajardo, Alaska forward Vic Manuel said they are not going to take the Beermen lightly come Sunday when the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup kicks off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Manuel, the hulking undersized Alaska forward said they have been keen observers of the just-concluded San Miguel-Rain or Shine semifinal series.

And he admitted that the Beermen, who whipped the Elasto Painters, 90-82 on Friday to win the series, 4-2, remain formidable even without the injured Fajardo.

“Kahit naman kasi sino sa San Miguel puwede gumawa. Nandiyan pa si Gabby (Espinas), tapos si Yancy de Ocampo malaking bagay din iyan sa kanila (Beermen),” Manuel told Philstar.com before heading to the team’s Saturday afternoon practice.

Manuel, nicknamed the “Muscleman”, added that their preparation isn’t centered around Fajardo alone, citing that San Miguel’s bevy of guards led by Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross and even Marcio Lassiter are bound to give them fits defensively.

“Lahat naman sila pinaghahandaan namin, pero siyempre, without June Mar, wala na silang inside threat,” he added.

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Alaska will be facing San Miguel in the Finals for the third time in the last four conferences, giving the Aces another crack at exacting revenge.

The Aces bowed to the Beermen in last season’s Philippine Cup, 4-3, before getting swept, 4-0 in the Governors Cup.

Manuel said vengeance isn’t exactly on their minds at this point, since they are more focused on the bigger picture.

“Sobrang gutom na kami for a championship. Eh ako, dito lang ako sa Alaska nakatikim ng Finals. So ito na ang chance namin, sana makuha na namin,” said Manuel, who played an integral part in Alaska’s 4-1 series win over GlobalPort in the other semifinal tussle.

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