by Jonas Terrado
The indefinite suspension handed to controversial star Calvin Abueva has taken its toll on Phoenix Pulse after suffering back-to-back games over the weekend and fall to 1-3 in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Phoenix absorbed a 101-95 defeat to Meralco last Friday and 89-82 to Rain or Shine two days later as it struggled to regain the swagger it had with Abueva out and coach Louie Alas serving a two-game suspension.
“I just feel like we’re losing a bit of our edge,” admitted Phoenix’s top local scorer Matthew Wright after Sunday’s loss to Rain or Shine at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
While Alas is set to return Saturday against Alaska at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Phoenix will continue to deal with the deep hole created by Abueva’s pair of misconducts that rocked the league.
The PBA Commissioner’s Office cracked whip on Abueva after a wild stretch that began when he made a lewd gesture at Maika Rivera, the girlfriend of Blackwater rookie Ray Parks Jr., during a verbal exchange.
Things turned ugly a couple of days later when Abueva delivered a clothesline on TNT KaTropa import Terrence Jones, a move that came as a retaliation to the former NBA player’s hit on the groin area that the referees missed.
“We’ve been on the wrong side of the media the last couple of weeks and we felt like it’s like seeping in to our mentality,” Wright admitted. “We have to address that immediately before this conference comes out as sayang.”
The aftermath of Abueva’s suspension co-incides with the adjustment period new import Richard Howell is dealing after replacing the injured Rob Dozier.
Howell averaged 17.0 points in his first two games but fouled out both times. He committed his sixth with 3:40 left in the fourth against Rain or Shine, giving counterpart Denzel Bowles the opportunity to dominate the waning moments.
But the main concern for the Fuel Masters moving forward is whether they can be able to fill the huge void left by Abueva, whose energy and toughness remain a big plus provided he avoids overdoing his antics.
“We just have to step up and try to be as Calvin as possible, if that makes any sense,” said Wright.