Is the Ahanmisi-Manganti duo the best in the UAAP today?

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From the James Yap-Paul Artadi tandem to the Jeron Teng-Ben Mbala partnership, the UAAP has had a long history of prominent duos who make a mark on the league. This season, Adamson’s Jerick Ahanmisi and Sean Manganti are making their claim as the league’s most dynamic duo.

The two third-year players for the Soaring Falcons have taken their games to the next level this year and are arguably the biggest reasons why the team is set to finish Season 81 as its most successful under head coach Franz Pumaren.

Manganti and Ahanmisi are two of the most efficient scorers in the league today, who just happens to  play like fire and ice. Manganti is the explosive slasher who is more expressive on the court while Ahanmisi is the cold-blooded sniper who is always calm and collected. Together, they form a deadly duo that other teams can barely match-up with along with the rest of Adamson’s well-balanced roster.

We all know Ahanmisi as one of the best shooters and off-ball movers in the UAAP, and the attention those traits bring to a defense ensures that the floor is almost always free enough for Manganti’s fearless drives. The Fil-American guard has also greatly improved his ball-handling and finishing this year, and it gives defenses an even harder time to contain him. So far this season, Ahanmisi is averaging 18 points (third in the league), 3.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 44.1 percent from the field, 41.7% from three (third in the league), and 84.6 percent from the free-throw line (second in the league).

Manganti, on the other hand, is one of the most improved players this year. From mainly being a role-player who was tasked to provide extra energy and defense to the team last season, Manganti has now evolved to become a go-to option on offense while still providing the same intensity on defense. His aggressive drives and improved play-making makes life easier for Ahanmisi to get free for outside bombs. Manganti is currently averaging 14.8 points (ninth in the league), 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 steals per game (third in the league) while shooting 52.3 percent from inside the arc (sixth in the league) and 80 percent from the free-throw line (fourth in the league).

What is impressive with Manganti and Ahanmisi is how they both know they are the team’s main options, yet also know their roles and limitations within coach Pumaren’s system and rarely try to do too much by themselves. This has allowed them to really optimize their skills to bring out the best possible results while mitigating their weaknesses. It has also allowed their other teammates to be much more involved in the team’s system, unlike with most star duos that basically reduce their teammates to bit players, especially on offense.

While there are other impressive two-man tandems in the UAAP today, you can argue that none of them have the combined balance of production, efficiency, selflessness, and of course, success that Ahanmisi and Manganti have achieved so far this season. While it is tough to say whether they are, in fact, the best, they are undoubtedly in the conversation.

Fortunately for the Adamson faithful, Sean Manganti and Jerick Ahanmisi have a couple more years to show why they should be called the best duo in the UAAP.

(Art by: Jokas Dasmariñas)
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