TAIPEI - A tough warrior inside the court, Calvin Abueva turned emotional as he sat in the head table alongside coach Tab Baldwin in the press room at the end of Gilas Pilipinas' campaign in the 37th Jones Cup.
'The Beast' does have a soft side.
His eyes welling and clearly overcome by emotion, the enigmatic Alaska forward struggled to put into words the feeling of being part of a Philippine team for the first time - and doing well right in his debut tournament.
"Tumataas nga ang balahibo ko sa saya," Abueva said, spreading his arms for the scribes to see. "Ang sarap maglaro talaga (para sa national team). Ang sarap talaga ng feeling.
"Best feeling, tapos last game namin ako pa ang nasalang dito (sa press room), parang nakuha ko na ang mundo ko, di ba? Syempre parang practice games lang ito (for the Fiba Asia Championship) pero sa practice games pa lang, pinakita na natin kung hanggang saan tayo."
Abueva and Moala Tautuaa were the only Gilas players to see action in the team's eight games here, and only a bad fall in the second quarter after a collision with a Chinese-Taipei B big man put him out of action.
The 6-1 1/2 forward from Angeles City, Pampanga said he tweaked his lower back during the fall, but Baldwin had no doubt that his player was willing to give it another run had he called his number.
"He's fit, he's strong, he doesn't back down and he doesn't ever want to go out of a game," said the American-New Zealander. "If you guys haven't figured it out yourself, I do have a strong affinity for this guy. I'll say it publicly: I love this guy."
Is he really a 'Beast?'
"He's more than that," Baldwin said smiling.