CHANGSHA, China – Even with Gilas Pilipinas, Calvin Abueva still espouses Alaska’s noted ‘We Not Me’ battlecry.
The player they called ‘The Beast’ deflected the credit showered upon him for the hustle and energy he provided in the Philippines’ 87-73 defeat of reigning champion Iran Monday in the Fiba-Asia Championship here.
The third year Alaska forward was almost everywhere in the 20 minutes he was fielded in by coach Tab Baldwin, a performance he highlighted by coming through with 13 points and six rebounds.
At the same time, he provided Gilas the needed intangibles hardly found in the statistics, good enough for Baldwin to refer to him (and Marc Pingris) as the ones who made the ‘difference in this game.’
But Abueva said the victory was the product of not just one player but by the entire team that’s barely two months playing together as a unit.
“Hindi lang naman ako, pati rin si Ping, yung buong team. Nagsama-sama, nagtulungan sa depensa pati sa opensa,” said Abueva as he took his customary seat at the back of the Gilas team bus.
“Ako naman kung ano ang ipagawa sa akin ni coach willing and ready naman tayo.”
Abueva’s bundle of energy typified the way Gilas played in the pivotal fourth when the Filipinos poured in the heat and pulled away for the win.
The stretch was highlighted by the Alaska player forcing Iran resident star Hamed Haddadi committing his fifth and final foul at the 4:00 mark and Gilas already in control, 78-67.
“Calvin’s always in an attack mode. That’s the way he plays,” said Baldwin of the undersized power forward out of San Sebastian.
“He (Abueva) never stands still. He never watches the game (as compared to some players).”
Again Abueva refused to be singled out for being the key player in the Philippines’ first win over an Iran team in the last three years.
“Basta ako masaya lang dahil Iran ang tinalo natin,” he said.
Abueva added it would be better for Gilas not to celebrate too early as the tournament is still a long way to go.
He said the concern at the moment is how to beat India in the team’s final game in the second round preliminary on Tuesday.
“Stay humble lang muna. May bukas pang game. Kung matalo kami, masasayang lang yung malaking panalo na ito,” he stressed.