Calvin Abueva eyes ultimate prize

Published October 20, 2021, 3:24 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from PBA

Calvin Abueva could complete the ultimate redemption story if he ends up leading Magnolia Pambansang Manok to the PBA Philippine Cup crown.

A victory over TNT in the best-of-seven Finals will most likely mean a lot for Abueva, whose career was on the rocks when he was handed an indefinite suspension by PBA commissioner Willie Marcial for numerous misconducts in June 2019 while still playing for Phoenix.

The ban lasted just 16 months and Abueva remained one of the league’s top stars, first with Phoenix in last year’s Philippine Cup bubble and in his first conference for Magnolia this season.

“Pagkasuspend sa akin nun, yung laro ko andun parin. Yung isip ko, di bumabagsak. At yun nga nakabalik uli ako sa bubble sa Phoenix,” Abueva recalled during the pre-Finals press conference held Tuesday, Oct. 19.

“Pinursigi ko hanggang umabot sa semis, kaso di lang talaga umabot sa top,” continued Abueva, who led Phoenix to the semifinals but lost in five full games to TNT last year. “Then sabi ko maintain ko pa rin kung ano man ginagawa ko.

“And then dito sa Magnolia na-maintain ko, paunti-unti hanggang umabot kami dito, di ko na nga napapansin ano man ginagawa ko or stats ko or ano. Mindset ko lang makapunta na kami sa Finals. Bahala na si Lord kung mabigay man sa amin tong championship na to.”

Abueva is aiming to win just his second PBA championship, having tasted the sweet joy of success as a rookie with Alaska in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup.

He has fallen short on adding another title to his resume four times during his Alaska stint, including a heartbreaking 3-0 collapse against San Miguel Beer in the 2016 Philippine Cup Finals.

Magnolia’s duel with TNT is Abueva’s sixth Finals appearance which he did by playing a huge role throughout his new team’s campaign in the season’s most important tournament.

The nine-year veteran averaged 15.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.1 blocks in 19 games to lead the Best Player of the Conference race throughout the campaign.

Individual achievements, however, are far on Abueva’s mind at this moment with the Hotshots being a few wins away from the most important prize.

“Sa akin it’s gonna be like a bonus. Bonus talaga,” Abueva said when asked about possibly taking the BPC plum for just the second time in his career.

“Di mo napapansin na ganyan pala stats mo. Pero ang No. 1 na gusto mo dyan is makapunta ka ng finals and get that trophy. Yun ang No. 1 dyan. Pero yun bonus na lang talaga yun talaga.”