The highly-anticipated return of Phoenix Super LPG star Calvin Abueva Monday night was a huge hit online.
Abueva’s first game since his 16-month suspension was lifted generated a high of 120,000 views during One Sports’ Facebook live broadcast of the Fuel Masters’ 114-110 win over the NLEX Road Warriors.
As of posting time, the video which can still be played on One Sports’ Facebook page has received close to 750,000 online views.
Excitement and intrigue prompted basketball fans and casual observers to witness every move of Abueva, who finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists to earn Best Player of the Game honors during the broadcast.
“Hindi ko inexpect na ganun. Pinakita lang sa akin at naramdaman ko yung suporta,” Abueva said as he continued to express his gratitude towards those who supported him throughout the process leading to his return.
The cancellation of the TNT-NorthPort game as a precautionary measure following a COVID-19 scare surrounding a Blackwater player that initially tested positive also paved the way for Abueva’s comeback to be shown on primetime.
Phoenix and NLEX were supposed to play at 4 p.m. followed by the TNT-NorthPort clash at 6:45 p.m., but the PBA decision to put the second game on hold allowed TV5’s sports division to put the lone game into the lucrative timeslot.
The online viewership of Abueva’s return is something rare since the numbers are usually seen in some marquee games of crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel or the title-clincher of the PBA Finals.
It was Abueva’s first PBA game since June 2019 when his clothesline on TNT import Terrence Jones prompted commissioner Willie Marcial to slap him with an indefinite suspension.
Those calling for the league to finally lift his ban got their wish over the weekend, subsequently leading to the big online views.