UP's Mantilla to return to Cebu after heartbreaking end to college career

Jonas N. Panerio

HEARTBREAK continues to hound one-time Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) MVP Jaybie Mantilla in his collegiate career as he and the rest of the heavily-favored University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons got ousted from the UAAP Season 82 Final Four by the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers on Wednesday, November 13, 2019.

Even with a twice-to-beat advantage, UP could not get past UST, which beat them twice in the semifinal round.

For Mantilla, it was heartbreak all over again as his collegiate career ended without him ever tasting a championship. Last season, Mantilla led the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars to the finals but got defeated by the University of the Visayas Green Lancers in the deciding Game Three.

In an exclusive talk with SunStar Cebu the morning after UP’s crushing defeat, the Sangguniang Kabataan chairman of Barangay Suba admitted having a hard time find the words to aptly describe what he was going through.

“It’s very painful because one of my dreams was to capture a championship in college,” said Mantilla, who was recruited out of the Cebu- Casino Ethyl Alcohol in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League to join the star-studded Maroons.

“The pain is unbearable because of the people’s expectations that we were going to make it to the finals. It’s more painful this year because in USJ-R, nobody really expected us to make it all the way to the finals. I’m really having a hard time right now but I know that at some point, I have to accept this,” the dynamic point guard said.

In spite of the defeat, Mantilla is grateful for the UAAP experience, from which he said he gleaned a lot of lessons, both on and off the court.

“I can’t pinpoint each and every one but I have learned a lot from my experience here, especially from my teammates who easily accepted me as one of their own. They welcomed me even though I was a late addition to the team,” added Mantilla.

With the UAAP season done, Mantilla said he would be returning to Cebu to tend to his responsibilities as SK chairman. He also said that he might return to his MPBL squad next month.

Although he rarely saw any playing time, Mantilla said the time he had with UP is one he would never forget.

“To the UP community, I’m very proud to have been part of this team. I will miss everything here. Although I spent just six months here, they really showed me a lot of love and support and made me feel like I spent six years here.”(SunStar Cebu)