In tears, Sean Manganti waved goodbye to the Adamson crowd, the Final Four and ultimately, the UAAP. Not too long ago, he was screaming his presence into the league, showing off his athletic ability, only to end his UAAP career showing he is much, much more.
When the UAAP first got a glimpse of Sean Manganti, it was in the dying minutes of the opening game for UAAP Season 79. A newly refurbished Adamson Soaring Falcons under the tutelage of Coach Franz Pumaren was making their debut. Their opponent, the UP Fighting Maroons who were also debuting under their new mentor, Bo Perasol.
Jerrick Ahanmisi had just announced his arrival into the league with a 28-point performance, waxing hot from the three-point line. Sean Manganti, then coming off the bench, took a share of the spotlight when Terrence Mustre found him waiting at the baseline, allowing Sean to rise up for a thunderous slam.
From their debut it was easy to see that Jerrick Ahanmisi was going to be a superstar in the league, but few would have expected the drastic evolution of the all-around player that became of Sean Manganti.
At first, many expected Sean to simply be an athletic-type player; be tall, get rebounds, get highlights. In his first year with the Soaring Falcons, he was tasked to play a lot of the four-spot, told to rebound, bang bodies under the paint and set screens for shooters. He often came off the bench, averaging only 19.1 minutes a game, good for 8 points a game on an average 0.1 three-pointers attempted per game.
It made sense, Mangati was tall, he was athletic, he could jump high, so why not have him play under the basket? To the collective minds of the UAAP, he was Sean Manganti the dunker.
The following season the Soaring Falcons added Tyrus Hill to their lineup. Like Sean, Tyrus was a highlight reel machine. Unlike Sean, Tyrus had difficulty scoring whenever there was a defender in front of him and when he didn’t have momentum to go for the dunk. As a result, Coach Franz opted to put in Sean Manganti whenever the usual scorers had to sit down. He was able to use his athleticism to cradle the ball around defenders to score. Here we saw the first glimpses of Sean Manganti the scorer.
It was also in this season that Sean Manganti would start developing a special place in the hearts of UP Fans. Using his athletic ability, Sean Manganti dealt his first heartbreak against UP by tipping in a miss from Ahanmisi to win the game.
By the end of the season, he was averaging more minutes than in his rookie year at 19.5 minutes, but his scoring production went down to 6.5 points per game.
Entering Season 81, the captain’s hat was passed on to Sean Manganti. With Tyrus Hill being recruited by a D1-NCAA school, it solidified his spot in the starting five. But pre-season games took a peculiar turn. The Soaring Falcons were running more plays for Sean and he was shooting a lot more from the outside, something he only ever did before out of necessity.
When the season started, because of the addition of Vince Magbuhos and the drastic improvement of Simon Camacho, Sean was able to slide down to the small forward position, making the Soaring Falcons an incredibly nightmarish matchup because not only were they fast as would be expected from a Franz Pumaren team, they just got a lot taller with Manganti attacking from the wings.
With the captain’s hat on, he helped buck off a feisty UE Red Warriors in the first round, putting on full display his shiny new weapon, a jump shot. Not just any jump shot, a three point jump shot which at his height, was a nightmare to defend. In the process, he also put up his career-high 26 points, showing Adamson hopefuls, “I am captain now.”
It would again be against UP that his new scoring abilities were put into use. After helping Adamson stay within striking distance in the 3rd quarter which allowed them to close the gap in the 4th, the game was tied with the final possession going to the Soaring Falcons. Coach Franz designed a play to put the ball in the hands of his captain. After a tipped pass saw the ball come back to him, Sean flipped the ball up with no time to spare. Game.
Against teams like UST, he showed off how big a mismatch he was, taking defenders on the baseline and handily stretching over them to score. Manganti had become far more than a dunker, far more than an athletic scorer, Sean Manganti had evolved into a scoring machine.
Again in the second round, when UP climbed back from a 23 point lead in the fourth quarter, the Soaring Falcons were desperate to score. With UP knocking on the door within four points, Sean Manganti was found open in a corner, brandishing his brand new jump shot to bury the trey and the dagger, ending the UP run, endearing himself to the UP community forever.
In his final season, Sean Manganti set his sights to making it into the finals for the first time. He willed his team on, playing the most minutes per game he has ever played at 27.5, scoring the most points he’s ever scored at 14.3 per game, expanding his range by attempting 5 threes per game.
Just as his first game was against the UP Fighting Maroons, so was his last.
Unfortunately, despite his improvements, despite his effort to bring his team to the finals, his last memory of the UAAP would be Paul Desiderio fading away against his outstretched arms, for the win.
Thank you for the chance to watch your game evolve, Sean. You’re not just Sean Manganti the dunker, nor Sean Manganti the scorer. You’re Sean Manganti, the complete player.