Abueva's former coach on Gilas cut: 'Si Calvin 'yung 6-2 na kung lumaro parang 7-footer'
Former Stags coach Allan Trinidad on the value of Calvin Abueva to Gilas: "Si Calvin kahit sabihin mong sino ka pa, anong bansa ka pa, kahit kumakain ka ng apoy, pag dinepensahan ka ni Calvin, magpapakamatay yan." Jerome Ascano

THE first thing Calvin Abueva did after being informed that he was out of the final Gilas Pilipinas lineup for the Olympic qualifiers was call his wife, Sam, to pour his heart out.

Abueva’s longtime mentor Allan Trinidad said he felt his ward's pain.

“Grabe umiyak 'yan nung nalaman niya na hindi siya nakapasok sa Magic 12 (ng Gilas). Humagulgol talaga siya, hindi niya matanggap kasi gustong-gusto niyang lumaro sa national team,” said Trinidad, who was privy to the conversation of the couple.

“Ang pauli-ulit daw na sinasabi ni Calvin kay Sam eh, ‘Ano pa kaya ang kulang sa akin? Ibinigay mo naman lahat, parang balewala yung paghihirap ko.' Nasaktan talaga si Calvin,” he added. “Hanggang ngayon malungkot siya.”

The former San Sebastian Stags coach and now Pampanga sports director couldn't hide his disappointment over Gilas coach Tab Baldwin's decision to cut Abueva and LA Tenorio from the final 12-man lineup.

“Dapat ipaliwanag nila sa tao (yung decision of not including Abueva), dapat idepensa nila yung desisyon nila sa publiko. Ilabas nila isa-isa yung criteria, kung bakit pinili si ganito, at kinuha si ganito,” he said.

“Dapat ipakita nila 'yung wala ni Calvin na meron yung mga pinili nila. Pero alam ko hindi sila makakapagpapaliwanag dyan, mahihirapan sila dahil alam ng tao na maling inalis si Calvin,” he said.

[See Baldwin on Abueva, Tenorio cuts: '(I chose) the 12 that was tailored for the competition']

Asked what Gilas will miss with Abueva now on the team’s reserve list, Trinidad rattled off some of the upsides of his longtime star player in the NCAA.

“Pinaka nawala dyan yung puso, si Calvin, lahatin mo 'yan, 'yan lang ang may pusong doble. Si Calvin kahit sabihin mong sino ka pa, anong bansa ka pa, kahit kumakain ka ng apoy, pag dinepensahan ka ni Calvin, magpapakamatay yan. Hindi mo siya made-dare at mate-threaten kahit anong kulay ka pa,” he said.

“Si Calvin nakikita nyo naman sa PBA 'yan, kahit mga malalaking import hindi niya inuurungan. Nakalimutan nyo ba yung mga ginawa nya nung Fiba Asia? Higante ng China at ibang bansa, binabangga at sinasalubong niya, sa kin nga naniniwala ako, hindi aabot sa finals ang Pilipinas last year kung wala si Calvin eh,” he said.

[See COMMENTARY: Gutsy call by Coach Tab]

Trinidad also refused to buy the explanation of former Gilas coach Chot Reyes - and later confirmed by Baldwin - that size, or the lack of it, weighed heavily in the decision to leave out both Abueva and Tenorio.

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“Si Calvin nga yung 6-2 pero ang laro niya pang seven-footer, kahit gaano kalalaki kalaban, hindi mo naman nakitang umuurong si Calvin eh,” said Trinidad, who now handles a pool of Pampanga-born players under a program started by Vice Governor Dennis Pineda.

“Saka hindi ba nila alam na pwede mo namang i-convert si Calvin na one or two positions, kung kinukumpara ni Chot Reyes 'yung 4 na position, mali siya. Si Calvin kayang maglaro ng gwarda nyan,” said Trinidad, pointing out that Abueva once led the NCAA in scoring, rebounds and assists.

Listen to interview with Allan Trinidad:

Follow the writer on Twitter: @snowbadua