Paolo Bugia: After Abueva trade, Phoenix ‘could finally focus’ on basketball

Published February 20, 2021, 11:36 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Calvin Abueva Phoenix Super LPG
Phoenix Super LPG forward Calvin Abueva (PBA Images)

When the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters signed Calvin Abueva to a three-year contract last December, the coaching staff and management were ready for another ride with the mercurial forward.

The team was willing to do that despite having a player that served a 16-month suspension for clotheslining an opponent, and also the off-the-court moments that included outbursts on social media because of personal problems.

Two months later, everything changed with one offer. Phoenix opted to let go of Abueva – and his antics – as it grabbed the chance to retool the core when Magnolia offered point guard Chris Banchero and two picks in this year’s PBA Rookie Draft.

“If there was a time that made our decision easier (to trade Abueva), nagkataon it was this year,” said Phoenix team manager Paolo Bugia on the weekly sports show The Chasedown Saturday on One PH over Cignal TV.

“We made a decision to move forward and we could finally focus on basketball… without the extra baggage so to speak.”

The arrival of Banchero to the Fuel Masters pairs him with gunner Matthew Wright in what could be a deadly duo at the backcourt for Phoenix coach Topex Robinson.

Also, according to Bugia, there is an opportunity for the franchise to select a young talent probably in place of Abueva at the No. 6 pick in the first round – and another one in the second round – in the Draft.

As for Abueva, the Fuel Masters probably had enough of the veteran player.

“Amidst all the lights and everything that is going on in the bubble… behind the scenes, unknown to a lot, obscure from the fans, there was a lot of time and effort, continuous to keep Calvin on track,” said Bugia.

“Time and effort from the coaches, the management, and even his teammates, the players. It was a continuous effort 24/7 to make sure that he was focused, hindi siya bumalik… the dark places where he was.”

“Everybody knows, it’s no secret that Calvin is a very good basketball player but it’s not just basketball with him. There are a lot of things and everybody knows that and it’s all over social media and it’s all over the news.”

“We embrace that for a time,” added Bugia.