<
>

Vic Manuel working on improving shooting range with Phoenix Fuel Masters

New Phoenix forward Vic Manuel liked what he saw in his first practice with his new PBA team since being traded last week.

He was welcomed by coach Topex Robinson and fellow newcomer Chris Banchero, who were also former Alaska members. Banchero is also coming in as a new member of the Phoenix side since being shipped to the Fuel Masters in a trade with the Magnolia Hotshots two weeks back.

"I'm happy with my first practice with the team, having talked with coach Topex and Chris Banchero, plus Jason Perkins and Justin Chua," Manuel told ESPN5 in Filipino on Monday.

Manuel said his brief conversation with Robinson during their two-hour practice was huge, stressing that it "boosted his confidence" as he begins a new chapter of his PBA career with his new team.

"Coach Topex has made me feel welcome and comfortable right in my first day with Phoenix at practice. Actually, I liked being with them already because I can feel the energy and excitement with them," said a relieved Manuel, now that his six-week contract standoff with Alaska is over and done with.

"At least, the contract issue with Alaska is also over. Now I can move forward and really get back to the grind. I can't afford to relax," stressed the former PSBA Blue Jaguar.

Manuel said under Robinson, he's expected to "reinvent" himself as he gets the green light to shoot threes, which is completely different from what he used to do with the Aces.

"Coach Topex gave me the license to shoot from the outside. And that alone, gave me the confidence already to play for the team, playing without pressure at all," shared Manuel, who emerged as the Aces' top performer with over 15 points per game average last season.

With Phoenix, Manuel said he likes the idea that he'll be shooting threes.

"I'd been practicing shooting threes while I was with Alaska but then, I didn't get the chance really to do that because I rarely pop out. While here at Phoenix, I'll simply give my best in practice and with the confidence they are now giving me, I'll be shooting more from the outside," Manuel explained.

While Phoenix is stacked with scorers led by Matthew Wright, Banchero, Perkins and even Chua, Manuel wouldn't mind playing a limited scoring role, so long as the Fuel Masters win the championship.

"There are so many guys who can score here at Phoenix. As for me, I'm willing to be a role player so I don't have pressure playing really,"