By Adrian Stewart Co
Justin Chua is glad to finally have veteran forward Vic Manuel on his side following the latter’s trade to the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters during the PBA offseason.
The Bacolod City-native Chua admitted that, being the primary defender of Manuel before, he was having a hard time stopping “The Muscle Man” when the latter was still with the Alaska Aces.
“It’s really tough to guard him lalo na nung sobrang kundisyon siya,” said Chua of Manuel. “So he is a huge addition for us and I am looking forward to having a partnership with him.”
“I am also excited to start learning stuff from him also sa practices. Vic’s a veteran na rin and he’s been very good in the PBA,” added the former Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles center.
Chua further said that it is urgent for him and fellow Fuel Masters big man Jason Perkins to build chemistry with the 33-year-old Manuel as well as their rookie big man Larry Muyang.
“So lahat ng big man (namin) bago. I will try to help them also get acquainted with the system faster,” said the 6-foot-6 Chua. “I want to see how I will blend with the new guys.”
The 31-year-old Chua had a solid showing in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup as he averaged 11.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and a league-best 1.6 blocked shots in a total of 17 games for the Fuel Masters.
Chua’s vast improvement made him a contender for the PBA 2020 season Most Improved Player but he eventually lost to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings forward Prince Caperal.
The efforts of the former Trinity Christian School-Bacolod standout, however, allowed him to land a fresh three-year contract extension from the Fuel Masters during the offseason.
Apart from that, Chua was also invited as part of the Gilas Pilipinas national men’s basketball team pool that was preparing for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifier earlier this year./ASC, WDJ