PHOENIX Pulse has been on a roller-coaster ride without Calvin Abueva in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Fuel Masters suffered their second consecutive defeat on Wednesday, 128-108, at the hands of San Miguel to drop to 4-6 win-loss - a big drop from the Philippine Cup where they claimed the top seed with an 8-2 card.
Phoenix coach Louie Alas admitted Abueva’s absence is felt in more ways than one.
“Yes,” said Alas, when asked about the subject. “Kasi alam naman natin kung ano ang kaya ni Calvin. Medyo high risk, pero high reward.”
Abueva has so far sat out eight games after being slapped with an indefinite suspension by the PBA Commissioner's Office due for two separate incidents including a clothesline hit on TNT import Terrence Jones.
Stats showed how Phoenix Pulse is missing Abueva, who would have been a Best Player of the Conference candidate in the Philippine Cup after averaging 14.8 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.4 steals had he not been disqualified due to technical and flagrant fouls.
With Abueva around, the Fuel Masters topped the rebounding department in the Philippine Cup with an average of 58.8 per game. Through 10 games, the Fuel Masters are only averaging 49.5 a game - a nine rebound drop off from last conference.
Phoenix Pulse was also fourth-best in scoring during the Philippine Cup, but has now dropped to eighth.
There is also a significant drop is in the assists department where the Fuel Masters are 11th through 10 games in the Commissioner’s Cup, down from fifth in the Philippine Cup.
“Malaking bagay na wala si Calvin,” Justin Chua admitted. “The things he bring on the court, hindi mapapalitan ‘yun. Siguro hanggang ngayon, apektado pa rin kami. Hindi mo mapalitan. As much as we can, we try to cover up.”
However, Chua said Abueva’s absence isn’t the only reason for the Fuel Masters’ struggles as injuries have also hurt the team. The most notable was on point guard LA Revilla, who is out for the rest of the conference due to surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle.
Jayson Perkins and Jaypee Mendoza also had injuries of their own that sidelined them for parts of the conference.
Alas said Abueva’s real impact on games is not reflected in the stats, as he plays with a lot emotions that fires up teammates. However, it is also those same emotions that led to the indefinite suspension, Alas admitted.
“’Yung inaano namin sa kanya ngayon, nire-rehab namin ‘yung pagre-react niya sa mga sitwasyon. Si Calvin, doon siya effective eh. Sabi ko lang sa kanya, mag-tone down lang siya, kasi kapag na-check mo emotion mo, wala namang problema eh. Mabait ka namang tao,."
There is no sign that Abueva will be reinstated anytime soon, but Abueva has been training on his own in preparation for his return. He at times is working out at the Upper Deck gym where the team is practicing although he is not training and practicing with the team.
“Nagpupunta siya sa Upper Deck. Doon siya sa gym. Pagkatapos ng practice, siya naman ang bumababa, nagshoshooting. Pero hindi muna namin inaallow (sumama sa practice) with due respect sa PBA,” said Alas.