ALASKA rookie Calvin Abueva, at the center of controversy after being caught on video playing in a so-called `larong labas,' broke his silence on Friday, saying the unauthorized appearance was a "favor" done for a cousin.
The No. 2 overall pick in the last PBA rookie draft made no effort to deny that it was him who played in a cement court in Sta. Maria, Bulacan on Monday night, but insisted it was no more than an exhibition game and not a competitive one.
“Hindi naman ligang labas yun, exhibition game lang yun,” said Abueva in an exclusive Spin.ph interview.
While he’s aware that playing in such small town games is prohibited in the PBA, the Balibago, Angeles City native explained he finds it hard saying no to people who extend invitations for such appearances because it was his only way of repaying the kindness of people who helped him during his early years.
He declined to answer questions on whether he received payment for the appearance.
“Nagpakita lang ako doon, konting kasiyahan lang naman, konting showtime para mapasaya lang mga tao,” said the 24-year-old Abueva. “Pinagbigyan ko lang ang pinsan ko na nag-imbita sa akin doon.”
Abueva was a fixture in the 'ligang labas' circuit during his amateur years, but such appearances are prohibited under the uniform player's contract he was bound to after he turned pro with the Aces.
He and teammate Gabby Espinas, who also played in the same game, have been asked by Commissioner Chito Salud to explain no later than Monday why they should not be penalized for the Bulacan escapade.
Abueva admitted that he was already reprimanted by Alaska head coach Luigi Trillo.
“Pinagsabihan ako ni coach, sabi niya na if ever man maulit, next time magpa-paalam ako kung may mga ganitong liga o laro na naimbita ako,” said Abueva. “Tapos huwag ko lang daw ibibigay ang hundred percent ko kasi katuwaan lang naman.”
The former NCAA MVP said he was aware of the risks that come with playing in such games, but insists he takes the necessary precautions.
“Syempre mag-iingat ka din, laro-laro lang naman yun, katuwaan lang naman. Kasi di maiiwasan na pwede kang ma-injure kaya talagang ingat ako,” he said.