December 8, 2015

Do-it-all Manalo

Kevin McCarthy

photo of Alphonse Manalo

It's fascinating to watch a high school player move through various roles as he gains experience and maturity. From a neophyte with limited responsibilities to a mainstay to often the key element of a team, advancement is based on accepting and carrying out assignments of greater importance. That evolution accurately describes Piedmont Hills senior point Alphonse Manalo.

“My role has changed over the years,” Manalo explained. “I was a captain on my JV team as a freshman but when I was a sophomore on varsity, I called the plays and distributed the ball. Now we've lost a lot”—the top four scorers for the Pirates have graduated and just eight points a game is returning—“so now I'm taking on the role of a leader. I try to lead by example.” But he'll also verbalize instructions if it's called for, “I'll tell guys, ‘dude, just focus.’”

Manalo added, “I have to make reads on the court and, as the floor general, sometimes I have to make something happen.”

The leader in assists the past two years for Piedmont Hills, he is projected to do so again. However, look for Manalo to be scoring in double figures in the 2015-16 season.

Here's the goods on him after his participation in the 2015 Bay Area Competition Clinic last September: “Versatile one man who plays with energy. Handles it well, ok shooter (3 range), good driver. Pulls up nicely in the half court, moves well without the ball, works on defense.” Manalo's analysis indicated highest consideration for top prospect category.

“Alphonse is a true point guard and he was much more a facilitator last year,” offered Piedmont Hills Coach Pete Simos. “I should have had him shoot more.”

Simos continued, “He brings leadership and maturity to the team. Alphonse knows all the roles. You lose a game and you're not mad because he gives it everything he has.”

The 5-foot-11, 170 Manalo also packs a physical punch as he lifts 225 pounds. But he see his best attribute as “my defense actually. Defense wins games, my coaches taught me that. You can turn defense into offense. In practice every day, we spend a good hour just on defense.”

Although he played a bunch of sports growing up, “my family is a big basketball family. My Mom loved to watch Michael Jordan on television. I found basketball enjoyable and then I fell in love with it.”

Manalo cites his parents as his strongest hoops influences. “My Dad, who passed away when I was a sophomore, would give me good criticism. We would practice by ourselves. With my Mom, she really supported me and has spent a lot of money on me for camps.”

The Pirates finished 18-7 overall, 12-4 in the Mount Hamilton League last season. It was 22-6, 12-2 the season before. But no Walter Bateast, now a sophomore at Otero Junior College in Colorado, nor Isaiah (South Puget Sound CC freshman) Stewart or Rey (West Valley College frosh) Lowe, last season's double-figure scorers, will be suiting up for Piedmont Hills. Still, Manalo is confident. “We're not the biggest but we're preparing and practicing hard. If we stick to the game plan then we will be okay.”

That's with Manalo leading, passing, defending and scoring in his senior season.