SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Alaska veteran Vic Manuel is looking forward to facing good pal and Phoenix star Calvin Abueva in the PBA Philippine Cup bubble.
After staving off the hard-fighting Terrafirma, 99-96, on Tuesday at the AUF Sports Arena, Manuel and the Aces (4-3) will take on their former player Abueva and the Fuel Masters (4-2) on Thursday.
“Ini-invite namin ‘yung mga fans ng Alaska na suportahan pa rin kami next game laban sa Phoenix lalong-lalo na’t nakabalik na si Calvin. Sigurado, magiging magandang laban ‘to,” said Manuel, who registered a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds.
Abueva, who was picked second overall by Alaska in 2012, made his much-awaited PBA comeback with a bang in the Fuel Masters’ 114-110 win over NLEX on Monday following a 16-month suspension.
The 33-year-old Manuel congratulated his 32-year-old friend Abueva for his roaring return through an Instagram story, saying “Welcome back! Congrats pare!”
The two bruisers used to anchor the Aces’ frontcourt until Abueva got traded to Phoenix in 2018 for Karl Dehesa and a 2019 first round pick.
Alaska head coach Jeffrey Cariaso said they will prepare not just for “The Beast” but for Topex Robinson’s streaking Phoenix as a whole.
“First of all, I’m happy Calvin is back,” said Cariaso. “We’re in a situation where Phoenix is already playing well. They had Calvin who’s really gonna give them that extra spark, extra All-Star. So, we’re gonna have our hands full.”
“Coach Topex played it well when he said that Calvin is just a part of them. So that’s how we’re looking at it. Is he someone who we worry about? Of course. He is that type of caliber of player. ‘Di naman mag-iiba ‘yung preparation namin. We’re gonna scout him like we scout all the other players.”