VIC Manuel tempered expectations about his arrival at Phoenix, stressing there's a lot of things to do before the Fuel Masters could be considered title contenders in the coming PBA 46th season.
He said cohesion more than individual talent still spells success for a franchise.
"Baka mas maging madali sa amin kung magiging maganda yung chemistry ng team. Malakas naman 'yung lineup ng Phoenix sa ngayon.
Pero kung hindi ka mag-lalaro as a team, wala ring mangyayari," said the 33-year-old veteran forward.
About a week since being traded by Alaska to Phoenix, Manuel only had his first individual workout with the Fuel Masters on Monday, posting a photo of him at the Upper Deck gym in Ortigas along with coach Topex Robinson and new acquisition Chris Banchero.
Manuel had to wait for the result of his swab test before finally joining the Fuel Masters in their workouts.
While he's been together with Robinson at Alaska before, this will be the first time Manuel will be playing for the former PBA player as full-time coach.
He said adjustment on his part is still needed to get used to Robinson's coaching system.
"Kailangan ma-apply ko muna yung sistema ni coach Topex, kaya kailang maging focus talaga ako pagdating sa practice," said Manuel.
But the entry of the Licab, Nueva Ecija native assures the Fuel Masters of a solid starting unit despite the loss of Calvin Abueva.
Manuel is expected to fill in the void left by the 33-year-old Abueva in Phoenix's potential starting five that also includes Matthew Wright, Banchero, Jason Perkins, and Justin Chua.
Again, Manuel would rather not put pressure on the team and label the Fuel Masters among the league's elite ballclubs.
"Hindi rin talaga masabing title contender kasi alam naman natin ang ibang teams nagapapalakas na rin," he said. (RG)