Espiritu, Manotoc live the dream of taking sports management to the next level

Basketball fans have seen second generation of players follow their father’s footsteps in the PBA over the last two decades or so.

Robert Jaworski, Sr., Philippine basketball’s “Living Legend”, played alongside his son Dodot starting in 1995 after being selected 10th overall (second round) by Ginebra San Miguel.

To date, the Jaworski father and son tandem is the only first and second generation players who have played in one PBA team.

Current Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar, meantime, stomped his way into the pro league officially in 2009 when Burger King made him the PBA’s top overall pick. He later, landed at his father Peter’s former team Ginebra in 2013 after being traded by GlobalPort to the league’s most popular squad.

PBA legend Freddie Hubalde, who won multiple championships with Crispa and later, Tanduay, watched as his son Paolo play 10 seasons in the pro league that started with San Miguel in 2006 before ending at Mahindra this season.

Several more second-generation players emerged in the pro league’s four decades of existence. They include Star’s coach Jason Webb, who played for Tanduay and Sta. Lucia over a decade ago as he followed his father Freddie Webb’s footsteps; Jeric Teng, who now plays for Rain or Shine (his father is Alvin Teng); GlobalPort’s Billy Mamaril (his dad is Billy Mamaril), just to name a few.

Fans can expect more second-generation players to emerge in the PBA in the coming years. 

But over the past five years, working silently behind the shadows of these well-known PBA players are two young businessmen, who undeniably have basketball running in their veins.

Second generation sportsmen

Marvin Espiritu and Matthew Manotoc carry surnames that are respected in the Philippine basketball community.

You see, Marvin is the son of longtime basketball player agent Danny, while Matthew, known by his nickname Matt, is the son of former Crispa Redmanizers coach Tommy Manotoc and yes, grandson of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

Marvin’s dad has been a regular fixture in the PBA and the defunct Philippine Basketball League, forerunner of the PBA D-League since the late 1980s.

His dad, Danny Espiritu has in fact, handled the careers of former professional cage stars of yesteryears like Bong Alvarez, Kenneth Duremdes, Ato Agustin, Marlou Aquino, Bal David, Noli Locsin, Bong Hawkins, among others.

Given their basketball background, it wasn’t a surprise when the two eventually established what is now known as the EMBM (Espiritu Manotoc Basketball Management) group.

In 2011, Marvin recalled that he and Matt, then fresh from earning a college degree in the United States, crossed paths for the first time with the help of then Powerade team manager JB Baylon.

“Nag-start talaga kami magkakilala through JB Baylon kasi Matthew was part of the Powerade team, yung national team and he was working in that group,” Espiritu recounted to FOX Sports. “Galing lang ni Matthew sa U.S. nun and kakatapos lang niya mag-aral. He wanted to pursue sports management here sa Pilipinas.”

Espiritu said his first meeting got them connected in an instant, more because they share the same passion for basketball, along with a similar vision to establish a full-service sports management firm that will cater to the future stars of the PBA.

“Our goal was to set the standard for professional sports management that was full-service: superior contractual negotiations, endorsements, PR, marketing, financial planning, training, sports psychology, sports nutrition, taxes, post-career planning, etc.” shared Manotoc, who, aside from his engagement in sports, also ran and was elected as board member in his hometown of Ilocos Norte during the national elections last May.

“Our main principles were to ensure decision-making ultimately rests with the client, there is an opt-out clause in our contracts, and to make sure the client feels like we care for them beyond the business.”

The younger Manotoc believes beyond just getting a five-percent earning from the contract of each PBA player they represent, important for him and Marvin is to continue the legacy that Danny Espiritu has built over the last three decades in basketball.

“It was important to us that Danny’s legacy be perpetuated, building the trust and confidence with players and clients, helping players regardless of the relationship or commission, and developing a sound reputation in the industry.”

Apprentice to Danny Espiritu

Marvin Espiritu said over a decade before establishing EMBM, he served as his father’s assistant.

In fact, the younger Espiritu recalled that shortly after earning a college degree in Human Resources Management at College of St. Benilde in the late 1990s, he worked at FedEx/Air21 under Bert Lina.

“Ina-assist ko na si papa kasi ako rin, ang background ko, I’ve been playing basketball since grade school, and then high school naglaro din ako, Nag-stop lang naman ako maglaro sa college para tapusin yung schooling ko sa St. Benilde,” shared Marvin Espiritu.

But even then, he already helped his father prepare the contracts of PBA players like Duremdes, who was already a PBA superstar, having won a league MVP trophy in 1998.

“So halimbawa, si Kenneth, sabihin ko sa papa ko, ganito ang value niya, so bigyan mo siya ng ganito. So I do the contracts for him (Danny). So ako, parang naging assistant niya, and then kasama na yung tax, plus may accountant kami kaya as early as 2000, before pa natayo ang EMBM, I’ve been in the industry matagal tagal na rin,” explained Marvin.

But deep inside, Marvin said his dream remains strong as he wanted to expand what his father has been doing in the basketball industry.

EMBM’s first batch

When the Espiritu-Manotoc tandem finally established the EMBM sports management group in 2011, Marvin recalled how fortunate they were to land three up and coming PBA stars in Japeth Aguilar, Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter.

4-espiritu-manotoc-players-basketball-fox-sports-0914-2016Aguilar was already playing for Smart-Gilas under Serbian coach Rajko Toroman when EMBM was established in 2011, while Lutz and Lassiter emerged as first round picks by Barako Bull (then traded him to Petron/San Miguel) and Powerade, respectively.

“Suwerte rin kami by having our first clients in Japeth, Chris Lutz and Marcio, mga big names kaagad,” Marvin recalled. “We recruited them pero nagpakilala kami kasi ang credentials ko naman di na baguhan, tapos si Matthew kahit na bata siya, magaling din siya sa basketball, tapos, those three guys naman madaling kausap.”

Since 2011, Marvin shared that every PBA draft day, EMBM has at least five new players joining their management group.

“Bale, we need to earn their trust at first. But then through Japeth, na nag-endorse sa amin diyan si Job (Nkemakolam), yung temamate niya dati sa Ateneo, dun na kami nag-start,” he said.

Some of EMBM’s recent additions to the group include Blackwater big men JP Erram and Kyle Pascual, GlobalPort’s Yousef Taha, NLEX guard James Forrester, Phoenix young bigs Norbert Torres and Prince Caperal, Fil-Am guards Abel Galliguez of Alaska, Michael DiGregorio of Mahindra, Aljon Mariano of Barangay Ginebra and Bradwyn Guinto, also of the Enforcer.

5-espiritu-manotoc-players-basketball-fox-sports-0914-2016Manotoc said EMBM has a stable of big name players from the PBA and several role players, but that doesn’t mean their management group is picky.

“In terms of how we scout, we play and understand the game and the PBA caliber,” said Manotoc, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2010 at the Claremont McKenna College.

“We try to give everyone a chance, but we also have to be honest and realistic with players. We don’t discriminate or look for any particular characteristics. So long as we think the player has PBA potential, we help them.”

Not just for the money

Other than just being known as player agents, Marvin and Matt stressed how they want to change the landscape of managing players’ careers by providing the whole deal of service.

“Ang philosophy kasi namin is we’re here to help. We have this one vision to help Philippine sports, and hopefully, we can cross over to volleyball, boxing, and others sports soon,” said Marvin.

“We want to go outside the box kasi ayaw namin ma-identify lang as agents lang.”

The younger Espiritu said what gives them greater satisfaction is when they are able to help an aspiring young player fulfill his dream of playing in the PBA.

1-espiritu-manotoc-players-basketball-fox-sports-0914-2016“Wala kaming tinatanggihan. Sometimes, we do recruit players if nakitaan namin ng credentials, but minsan may players din na lumalapit sa amin for help,” explained Espiritu. “And basically we’re just opening doors for them, we set up a tryout for them, but at the end of the day, yung laro nila ang mage-elevate sa kanila.”

Manotoc seconded: “I studied sports management at UCLA, and that both Marvin and I were born into the basketball industry. We’re not in it to make a quick buck. We’re here to help players maximize their potential on and off the court.”

These days, Danny Espiritu’s stable of stars like Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot of San Miguel, Barangay Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa and rookie Scottie Thompson, TNT’s Jayson Castro, Rain or Shine’s burly big man Beau Belga and Phoenix veteran guard Cyrus Baguio also are affiliated with EMBM.

“Since we work with Danny, we consider ourselves one group, but we operate separately. But of course, we consult with Danny often,” said Manotoc.

“We usually keep our amateur players confidential since we usually don’t sign players until they’re about to enter the PBA. But our group (with Danny) handles nine of the 14 members of Gilas 5.0,” he added, citing the names of future PBA stars Kevin Ferrer, Ed Daquioag, Carl Bryan Cruz, Chris Javier, Russell Escoto and Lyceum transferee CJ Perez.

With the platform EMBM has in handling some notable names in pro basketball, Manotoc said they never tire themselves of reminding the players to put their earnings to good use.

“Some constant reminders we tell all of our players are save and invest your money because your career may end tomorrow and you have to be prepared,” stressed Manotoc.

“So be on top of your finances, help yourself before anyone else, learn to say no, be careful with what you say and do, and protect your reputation and image.” – Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava

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