CALVIN Abueva is the most polarizing figure in the Philippine Basketball Association. Fans, players and the public either love the do-everything, hard-driving, blood and guts forward or they thoroughly and absolutely hate him.
He goes hard in every play and gladly sacrifices his body to grab rebounds. He willingly endures floor burns as he regularly dives into the floor to collect loose balls. He’s a bundle of energy who motivates his teammates to work as hard and try as much as he does.
But at the same time he antagonizes referees with his demeanor, angers players of opposing team with his rough physical play and baits the fans of other teams with his flamboyant ways.
Love him or hate him, he is the most important player in the Alaska Aces team right now.
Abueva finally received long-overdue recognition from the league when he was crowned 2016 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference Friday, May 13 just before Game 4 of the championship series against the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters.
Minutes after receiving the recognition Abueva led the Alaska Aces against the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters last Friday, May 13. In typical Abueva fashion he was ejected from the game which fortunately his team won just the same.
RJ Jazul converted a lefty layup to push Alaska to a safe 101-88 advantage with just 1:40 left to play. But Abueva, who like the rest of the Aces never let up, still double-teamed Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters rookie guard Maverick Ahanmisi.
Abueva and Jazul trapped Ahanmisi after Abueva blitzed ball carrier Ahanmisi in a pick-and-roll play by the Elasto Painters just outside the three-point line. A surprised Ahanmisi was stopped in his tracks and Abueva ripped the ball right out of his hands.
The referees whistled Abueva for the personal foul and then sent him off to the showers when they slapped a second technical on him.
On the way to the Alaska dugout he acknowledged the cheers and the jeers as he waved to fans of the Aces as well as the Elasto Painters. His departure hardly mattered.
The Aces gave Rain Or Shine a dose of its own medicine as they trounced the Elasto Painters, 111-99, in the high-scoring, run-and-gun game. The Aces virtually settled the outcome of the match as early as the end of the third period.
Chris Banchero drilled a triple followed by a jumper by Sonny Thoss and another triple by Dondon Hontiveros as the Aces extended their advantage to 23 points, 90-67, after the third quarter.
Although sent off by referees Abueva finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds to go with four assists as he led his team to victory.
Abueva trailed Barangay Ginebra San Miguel center Greg Slaughter in statistical points. Discerning voters however voted him overwhelmingly for best player.
In the end, the 2013 PBA Rookie of the Year held a huge advantage over Slaughter with 1,150 points against Slaughter’s 752.
Before that the Angeles, Pampanga native was a recipient of a Mythical First Five award and a Mythical Second Team citation. Abueva also became a member of the All-Defensive Team and has been a regular fixture in the annual PBA All-Star Game.
He’s a good bet to make the Gilas team that will face France, New Zealand, Canada, Turkey and Senegal to vie for a slot in the Rio Olympics in the Olympic Qualifiers to be held right here in the Philippines.
Abueva isn’t even thinking about that as he is locked in on the Alaska goal to salvage the conference and go for the Commissioner’s Cup championship.
The tireless Aces forward outworked his rivals with averages of 17.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.4 steals to lead his team to the Finals. He amassed a total of 1,150 points with 413 coming from stats, 493 media votes, 94 player votes, and 150 votes from the PBA.
Abueva lorded it over stats leader Greg Slaughter of Ginebra (752 point), GlobalPort’s Terrence Romeo (488 votes), TNT slasher Jayson Castro (482 votes), and Blackwater Elite guard Carlo Lastimosa (378 votes).
Abueva became only the sixth Alaska player to win the award (after Kenneth Duremdes, Bong Hawkins, Johnny Abarrientos, Ali Peek and Willie Miller) and the first since Miller was adjudged conference best player of the 2008-2009 Philippine Cup.
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