By WAYLON GALVEZ
Calvin Abueva wasn’t supposed to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the second window of the FIBA Asia qualifier against Australia and Japan after he was dropped from the roster due to family woes which forced him to miss practice on a number of occasions.
But when head PH coach Chot Reyes decided to include him, the Alaska Aces enforcer known as the ‘Beast’ was reduced to tears.
“When I told Calvin that he was going to (be part of the lineup), he literally broke down. Humagulgol talaga siya because he really wanted to be part of this team,” Reyes bared after Gilas edged Japan, 89-84, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Through all of his personal problems, for him, this is his family, and we all treat him as our brother as well. He played like he really wanted to be here,” added Reyes as Abueva collected eight points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal in nearly 11 minutes.
Although he was initially scratched from the lineup, the 6-foot-2 forward continued to attend practice. And when injuries to Mac Belo and Troy Rosario hit the squad, Abueva was in shape to answer the call – and it came.
Reyes, knowing what Abueva could bring to the table, never hesitated.
“There’s a lot to be said about his presence, Calvin was present in every practice so he got the call-up.” said Reyes.
“Not only did he give us energy, he was our most efficient player. That’s the first time in history that Calvin led us in efficiency.”
Reyes referred to the plus 20 (+/-) EF rating Abueva had during the game against Japan.
Abueva savored every moment of the second chance accorded him.
“Oo, siyempre, masarap na makabalik ulit ditto,” he said. “Pagkabalik ko, binigay ko naman ang best ko. Hindi kami nag-give up sa mga ginawa nila (Japanese), lumaban talaga kami at buong puso naming binigay yung laro.”