ALL IN A DAY’S WORK FOR THE BEAST
THE puzzle that is Calvin Abueva continues to befuddle the opposition.
The super rookie again tantalized in the week that was despite being a marked man, leading Alaska to two straight wins and earning for himself the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors for the period Nov. 26 to Dec. 2.
It was the second such citation in the Philippine Cup for Abueva, who also earned the scribes’ unanimous nod during the Oct. 22 to 28 period, when he averaged 17.5 points and 10.5 rebounds.
The No. 2 pick overall in the Rookie Draft was even more impressive this time around with averages of 20.5 points, 15.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocked shot in Alaska’s victories over Meralco and GlobalPort.
More than the numbers, it is the 24-year-old’s blue-collar ethics anchored on his boundless energy that coach Luigi Trillo likes most about the man they call ‘The Beast.’
“You’ve just got to admire his efforts on both ends of the court,” said Trillo. “He has been the recipient of many hard picks, hard fouls, elbows and what-have-you, but he seldom loses his focus, never uses those tactics against him as an excuse for letting up on his game.”
Abueva’s performances of late takes on additional meaning when one factors in the fact that he is coming off a forced sidelining due to a nasal infection widely-believed to have been aggravated by a hit in the face from Air21’s Rob Reyes last Nov. 14.
When Abueva returned, it was very clear he wanted to make up for lost time.
In an 88-85 win over Meralco last Wednesday, Abueva re-set his career highs with 20 points and 18 rebounds and also played crucial defense in the end by preventing the Bolts’ Macmac Cardona and Cliff Hodge from putting up clear shots in the stretch.
Last Saturday against GlobalPort, the undersized, 6-foot-1 forward again booked a new career-best with 21 points laced by 12 rebounds and shone the brightest when Alaska was being threatened after nearly blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead.
Sent back in with the Aces ahead by just 81-77, Abueva promptly nailed a triple and added another jumper and an assist in the ensuing plays, making it a 91-81 game and pointed his team to a 101-95 victory.
Those victories arrested Alaska’s four-game slide, jacked its overall win-loss record to 7-6 and pulled it alongside Meralco for sixth-running spot.
Another victory over Petron Blaze in their last eliminations match on Wednesday, coupled with a Bolts loss next Sunday and Alaska can safely look forward to a best-of-three series and not the twice-to-win handicap it is trying so hard to avoid in the ensuing quarterfinals.
In that game and even in future ones, a big bull’s eye will again be on Abueva’s back.
It is also safe to assume he is going to simply shrug it off.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.