Blue Eaglet Joaqui Manuel’s commitment to DLSU is an encouraging development

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After almost 20 years, an Eagle has made a direct landing to Taft Avenue.

As officially announced yesterday, Joaqui Manuel of recently-crowned UAAP Juniors Basketball champion Ateneo has committed to go to De La Salle University for college and play for the Green Archers next season. Joaqui is the younger sibling of former UP Fighting Maroon Jett Manuel who now plays in the PBA and has another brother studying in DLSU. He originally went to Xavier School before transferring to Ateneo high school.

The 6’3 forward averaged 9.9 points and 9.4 rebounds for the Blue Eaglets in Season 80. He was a solid contributor on his team and at one point had 5 consecutive double-double contests.

Playing in a talented squad with the likes of Kai Sotto, SJ Belangel, Dave Ildefonso and Jason Credo, Joaqui knew that he wasn’t going to get the same number of touches like he used to back in Xavier. So he adjusted and was willing to do the other things to help the team win like being aggressive on the rebounding end and setting up his teammates to score. Even as a role player, he still managed to get his points.

His consistency and overall effectiveness is what drew Coach Louie Gonzales’ interest to recruit him. With Ateneo’s seniors’ squad already loaded in the frontcourt, it would have been difficult for Joaqui to make the team as a college freshman. In La Salle, he would have a better opportunity to get the minutes.

Playing power forward in high school, he might need to slide down to the three position in the college level. His edge is that he already has a decent perimeter game. In his first year, we can expect him to be that same all-around hustle guy and eventually be a significant piece for the Green Archers in the long run.

The last Ateneo high school basketball player to move directly to La Salle was BJ Manalo back in 1999. The other former Blue Eaglet in the team now is Gabe Capacio but he was a college transferee from Letran.

Overall, this is an encouraging development for the Green Archers after all the issues that hounded them since losing the UAAP championship last December. The recruitment of Manuel, along with the transfer of Jordan Bartlett from NU and the return of Mark Dyke are positive signs that the team has moved on and is headed in the right direction.

Contrary to what others think or claim, the DLSU men’s basketball program will be just fine.

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