Vic Manuel and June Mar Fajardo will be battling for rebounds for one team after Manuel found his way to San Miguel, which gave away former MVP Arwind Santos to Phoenix in a surprise trade. —PHOTO FROM PBA IMAGES

Perennial PBA powerhouse San Miguel Beer traded away Arwind Santos on Monday, effectively giving up its most seasoned and decorated veteran for the slightly younger Vic Manuel, a Santos clone as a stretch-four who recently found his way to NorthPort and has headed out without playing a game for the Batang Pier.

The trade, cleared by the Commissioner’s Office early in the afternoon, comes just 48 hours after Manuel was shipped to the Batang Pier, who sent their injured skipper Sean Anthony, young wing Sean Manganti and a future pick, to Phoenix, which also gave up backup big man Michael Calisaan.

Coaches and officials of both teams have yet to respond to the Inquirer’s request for comment as of press time.

It has been quite a while now since coach Leo Austria of San Miguel was quoted as saying that they would need to rebuild the Beermen’s core. In an interview with a handful of reporters during the Philippine Cup bubble nearly a year ago, the San Miguel coach rued that his team was “not getting any younger.”

“There’s been a lot of clamor from the fans, from the basketball experts. I think we’re the oldest team in the league, and our starters are averaging 34 years old. Our opponents, meanwhile, are 27, 28—all in their prime,” he added during the interview that had San Miguel exiting in the quarterfinals.

In trading Santos, San Miguel gives up the last player who won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award before June Mar Fajardo made a stranglehold of the plum a record six seasons.

Not slowing down at 40

Despite being 40 years old and one of the oldest active players in the league, it is worth noting that the versatile forward has barely showed signs of aging. During the last Philippine Cup, Santos remained a productive contributor for the ridiculously deep Beermen, putting up 12.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 blocks in a starting role in all of the team’s matches.

Manuel, six years younger than Santos, turned in 12.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists over the course of 11 games. He missed Phoenix’s crucial you-or-me contest against Barangay Ginebra last conference due to a groin injury.

Solid NorthPort

Santos joins Greg Slaughter at NorthPort, who was also shipped to the team in a controversial trade earlier this year. Together, they are set to backstop a promising young pair of guards in Robert Bolick and Jamie Malonzo, making the Batang Pier a formidable lot.

It remains to be seen, however, if this is merely a momentary stop for Santos. San Miguel, after all, once traded Alex Cabagnot to NorthPort back in 2014, only to pick him up right before the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Manuel joins a Beermen squad that has been long planning to infuse youth to its aging roster. His arrival marks the second time the club pulled the trigger on a high-profile exchange after dealing away several role players for two-time scoring champ and top rookie CJ Perez prior this season.

However, such a move barely makes a dent on the average age of San Miguel’s core group from 33.3 years old to just 32.6.

The shock trade breaks up San Miguel’s fabled “Death Five” squad made up of Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and Cabagnot. INQ

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