WINNING his first-ever PBA championship felt like rain in the middle of summer for Vic Manuel.
The ‘Muscleman’ finally broke through after San Miguel crowned itself anew as king of the Philippine Cup by dethroning TNT behind a 119-97 demolition in the deciding game of their best-of-seven finals.
This championship was long in coming for Manuel, who made sure he did his part by finishing with 16 points and seven rebounds, while going 7-of-13 from the field.
Prior to winning his first title as a pro, the native of Licab, Nueva Ecija was winless in five previous finals appearances with former team Alaska.
All those heartaches however, had since been wiped out in the aftermath of the Beermen’s latest championship conquest.
“Parang nakalimutan ko lahat ng heartbreak ko sa mga nakaraang championships. Sobrang saya para makuha mo yung pinapangarap mo. Kasi yan naman ang goal ng lahat ng mga players,” said Manuel.
The irony for Manuel was the fact that from those five finals losses, three came at the hands of San Miguel, including the 2016 heartbreaker ‘Beer-acle.’
“Sa part pa (talaga) ng San Miguel na lagi akong tinatalo dati. Actually 0-3 ako sa kanila,” Manuel said with a grin. “Nakuha ko yung championship sa kanila pa, so masarap sa pakiramdam.”
But the 35-year-old power forward didn't give up, never losing faith that one day he would finally win that elusive crown.
In fact, he never wanted to give up because his performance in the "Beer-acle" program has made his life so much better. Been working hard for the past few days. Manuel says, "We're going to keep going." Hindi ako tumigil na maglaro. i mean, if you want to be a champion, you have to be brave enough.
"Never pumasok sa isip ko na sumuko. sabi ko nga sa sarili ko habang nasa PBA ako at naglalaro, may chance pa akong mag-champion."
He took the first step toward that opportunity when he was traded by North Harbour to San Miguel for former MVP Arvind Santos before last year's Governor's Cup, having not played a single game for the Batang Pier.
The Beermen did make the playoffs in Manuel's first meeting, but lost to Tony Bishop and the Meralco Bolts in the quarterfinals.
Again, that didn't stop the veteran big man from continuing to play in search of his first championship.
"Kasi kung didibdibin mo yun mahirap kang maka-move on. baka maka-apekto pa sa paglalaro mo," Manuel said.
As they say, patience is a virtue. And in Manuel's most recent finals, he finally nailed the big case.
"In the end," he said, "I finally won the championship and I had my own ideas, my own thoughts." He said, "I'm very grateful to the management of San Miguel because they gave me a chance to have a chance.
And having tasted how it felt to be a champion, Manuel hopes this won’t be the last for him.
“Sana marami pang championship ang makuha namin,” he said.