Tears were streaming down the face of Sean Manganti when he sang the Adamson University hymn for the final time.
Emotions took over the graduating forward as the sea of blue inside the Araneta Coliseum sang in unison. Manganti had played his last game as a Soaring Falcon and it, unfortunately, ended in pain and disappointment.
The winner-take-all Final Four battle between UP and Adamson pushed both teams to their utmost limit which resulted into a thrilling finish. But the Falcons got the short end of the stick, losing 87-89 in overtime. Manganti did all he could but he and his team were on the wrong side of history.
"I just hope I can be remembered as one that left it all on the floor -- one that gave his life to Adamson, one that gave his heart to Adamson, and sacrificed everything for Adamson no matter what. And hopefully as a winner and a competitor," Manganti said after the game.
In the three years he spent with the Falcons, Manganti grew as a do-it-all forward. At 6-foot-5, he became a tenacious rebounder who could compete on the glass with the league's best big men. But he also had speed and quickness, making him a valuable asset on the defensive end. On offense, he developed into a relentless attacker, adding various weapons like the floater and 3-pointer to his arsenal.
"I think he really blossomed to an all-around player," shared coach Franz Pumaren, who arrived during Manganti's rookie year. "When I started with Adamson, there were certain things we needed to polish with his game. He accepted his role and the situation. I guess that's the testament of how he played this year."
The Falcons were in a position to finally make a breakthrough this season after two previous setbacks in the Final Four. They ended the regular season as the second seed and held a twice-to-beat advantage. But destiny was on UP's side, and not on Adamson's. Pumaren and the rest of the Falcons will heal, regroup, and fight again next year, except for Manganti whose UAAP career has come to a close.
"I expect them to be in the same place," Manganti said on the team he's leaving behind. "I expect certain guys to step up, to take my role. I'm expecting Jonathan Espeleta and Simon Camacho to step up and I think it will be the same strong team."
"Each and every one of them is my brother. I love them and Adamson forever," he added.
The 24-year-old Manganti has his eyes now set on the PBA. Based on the rules, however, he won't be eligible to join this year's pool, lacking one PBA D-League game to fulfill the requirements of a draft applicant. He suited up for the Akari-Adamson squad in the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup for 13 games earlier this year but needs one more to complete the 14-game requirement for Fil-foreigners.
"Well the only graduating player right now is Sean Manganti," mentioned Pumaren. "He's pro-bound. I think he will be drafted but there are certain things inside the court that he should start assuming, getting the responsibility for the team."
Whether or not he officially makes his entry into the professional ranks, Manganti will be remembered as one of Adamson's fiercest competitors.
"I love Adamson forever. They'll always be a big part of me. They are the reason who I am today, they have shaped me into the man I am today. And I hope the feeling is mutual," he closed.