'THE Beast' has a soft side, after all.
Calvin Abueva admitted he cried when he found out he was called up for national duty for the second window of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers despite missing the first few practices due to family problems.
And the Alaska star repaid coach Chot Reyes’ faith by providing his usual energy for the national team in the two games, capped by his performance in the 89-84 win over Japan on Sunday night.
“When I told Calvin that he was going to (be part of the lineup), he literally broke down in tears,” Gilas coach Chot Reyes related after the game. “Humagulgol talaga siya, because he really wants to be part of this team.”
“Through all of his personal problems, for him, this is his family, and we all treat him as our brother as well,” he added. “He played like he really wanted to be here.”
Injuries to Troy Rosario and Mac Belo prompted the inclusion of Abueva, who made up for his early absences by attending the rest of the team’s practices.
“There’s a lot to be said about his presence and Calvin was present in every practice, so he got the call-up,” Reyes said.
Abueva confirmed that he shed tears after finding out his call-up.
“Oo, siyempre, masarap na makabalik ulit dito,” the 30-year-old Pampanga native said. “Pagkabalik ko, binigay ko naman ang best ko.”
Indeed, Abueva proved he belongs as he registered eight points, three boards, two assists, and one steal, without committing a single turnover in less than 11 minutes on the court, giving him a plus-minus of 20.
“Not only did he give us energy, he was our most efficient player,” Reyes said. “That’s the first time in history that Calvin led us in efficiency.”
Abueva was simply doing his job.
“Hindi kami gumive up sa mga ginawa nila,” he said. “Lumaban talaga kami, buong puso naming binigay yung laro, at hindi naman talaga madali 'yung kalaban eh. Hindi sila madali pero ginawa pa rin namin 'yung best namin para manalo tayo dito sa homecourt natin.”