HE has gotten involved in countless skirmishes and controversies and has courted scorn from an army of haters without really trying.
But Calvin Abueva insisted he is only misunderstood.
The Alaska sophomore said he has never gone out to intentionally hurt another player - his competitiveness, physicality and trademark defense often mistaken, Abueva said, for dirty tactics by rivals.
“Pisikal naman talaga ang basketball. Kaso hindi ko maintindihan sa kanila, pag ako na ang namimisikal nagagalit sila. May iba namang mas pisikal pa sa akin,” the Balibago, Angeles City-born player told Spin.ph.
The 6-1 1/2 forward, in the news again after an altercation with Meralco's Jared Dillinger on Friday night, pointed out that he hasn't gotten into a fistfight - or much less thrown a punch - in his pro career.
“May sinaktan na ba ako? May sinuntok na ba ako sa game? Ako nga ang laging nabibira eh, pero kahit pag-ganti hindi ko ginawa. Hindi nga ako nakikipag-away. Kasi alam kong hindi tama yun,” Abueva said.
The hard-nosed former NCAA MVP admitted he is sometimes affected by what other people say about him, but will never sacrifice his intensity and competitiveness just to start pleasing people.
“Syempre, nalulungkot din ako sa mga sinasabi nila. Pero hanggat alam ko na hindi ako ganun, hindi ko na lang sila papansinin,” said the enigmatic Alaska rising star.
“Sabihin na natin siguro na sobrang passionate lang ako. Sobrang gusto ko lang manalo. Kaya may punto minsan na nagagalit sila sa akin. Kaso ano magagawa ko, gaya nila, gusto ko lang mag-succeed,” he added.
Abueva admitted to have injured a referee once, when he accidentally landed on official Edward Aquino during a game after losing momentum on a fastbreak play.
[For full story, see Unapologetic Abueva takes heat as referee lands in hospital after freak accident]
“Hindi ko talaga sadya 'yun. Nag sorry nga ako ng todo kay ref Edward (Aquino) 'nun. At natuwa ako kasi hindi siya nagalit. Kasi alam naman niya na aksidente yun. Nataon na ako ang nabangga,” he added.
Ian Sangalang, Abueva’s longtime friend and former teammate at San Sebastian, was quick to leap to his defense, saying Abueva is oftentimes misunderstood because of his competitiveness and supreme confidence.
“Maangas kasi ang dating niya. Akala mo mayabang. Pero if you get to know Calvin, pag naging close mo siya, napakabait nun. Mapagbigay yun at sincere na kaibigan,” said the San Mig rookie.
“Siya yung uri na hindi ka ipapagkalulo. Saka isip bata 'yun. Talagang plain-hearted siya. Hindi pa marunong magtanim ng galit yun,” he added.