CHANGSHA, China – One is unstoppable force and the other an immovable object.
Yet energetic forwards Marc Pingris and Calvin Abueva found a way to co-exist at Gilas Pilipinas as they continue to pump life into the country’s campaign in the Fiba Asia Championship here in a bid to get back to the Olympics after more than four decades of absence.
Rivals then, close tandem now.
“Hindi nga e,” said a smiling Pingris when asked if he ever foresaw becoming close to Abueva and forming a formidable partnership which Gilas coach Tab Baldwin refers to as ‘Team Kurimao.’
“Pero alam mo sobrang saya ko na nagkasama kaming dalawa. Sa PBA nagtitirahan kami, pero sabi nga ni coach ‘Team Kurimao,’ kailangan daw mag-combine ‘yung energy namin, yung hustle namin sa rebound, at sa depensa.”
Abueva for his part, said playing with Ping in the national team and going up against him in the pro league are two different things.
“Ibang level ito. Bansa yung (nakataya dito),” said the Alaska star. “Kailangan naming mag-sanib puwersa dito. Kung ano meron siya, kung ano meron ako, kailangan dalhin namin dito. Maganda naman yung tandem namin, kaya gumaganda rin yung laro namin, lahat kami.”
The two have been a joy to watch together as they are usually all over the court, hustling, defending, and scoring, if needed to.
Simply put, both Ping and Calvin are intensity personified.
In so short a time that they became teammates with Gilas, the two are alwayse in the same wavelength especially during the times when the chips are down for the team.
“Every time pag down ‘yung team, mag-uusap kami ni Calvin, ‘Tol, kailangan ng energy, kailangan ng extra rebound. So ginagawa namin kung ano ‘yung trabaho namin dito,” said the Star Hotshots veteran.
The two have become so comfortable playing together inside the court, they even wear the same color and style of shoes.
“Siya yung gumaya sa akin a, hindi ako,” said Pingris laughing.
To which Abueva added, “Siyempre kumportable siya. Nung nakita kong kumportable siya, kumportable na rin ako.”
With the Olympic qualifying tournament now in its home stretch and the 41st season of the PBA just around the corner, Abueva and Pingris are to take their own separate ways again and not lost on them is the reality they will be foes anew.
“Pagdating ng PBA may konting physical (plays), kasi iba-ibang management ang may hawak sa atin. Siyempre, pag laro, laro,” said a smiling Abueva, who gets a ribbing from Gilas teammate Gary David, seated just close to the Alaska forward inside the team bus.
Yet whatever happens, it’s obvious the former rivals have already earned the respect of each other.
“It’s an honor na makalaro ko siya (Abueva) at makasama dito sa Gilas,” said Pingris.