Calvin Abueva has no doubt brought his flamboyant, high-energy act from the NCAA for the San Sebastian Stags to the PBA for the Alaska Aces.
But one thing the prized freshman notably didn’t bring along was his short temper.
In college, Abueva normally reacted violently whenever provoked by opponents. One dubious incident in the last NCAA season — when he got ejected and eventually suspended for hitting a Lyceum player in the face in retaliation — even cost him a rare shot at back-to-back MVP awards.
But in the PBA, no amount of provocation so far can prompt 'The Beast' to strike back.
The pride of Pampanga has time and again been at the receiving end of what Commissioner Chito Salud termed 'welcoming' hits for rookies, and Game Two of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals between the Aces and the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday night was no different.
Despite several rough plays, including seemingly intentional ones from Aaron Aban that led to the TnT bruiser picking up a flagrant foul, Abueva has managed to keep his cool.
And it has fascinated his coach, Luigi Trillo, no end.
“The nice thing I admire about him is that he’s playing through it (beating),” Trillo said after the Aces evened the best-of-seven series at one apiece following the 100-88 win. “He has really given us life.”
Trillo knows the "beating" Abueva receives is just part of the game, knowing this year’s second overall pick has been a marked man from the day he first stepped inside the Big Dome floor for his first game as a pro.
“I haven’t seen a league that Calvin’s played in na hindi siya binabanatan. And that’s because he just brings the energy. He’s got an ugly game. It’s hit, it’s bump, it’s grind,” Trillo said.
The 6-1 Abueva has even managed to turn the physical contact into the Aces' favor, going down on the floor after every hit - to the point of being accused of 'flopping' - just to make sure referees don't miss the call.
The physicality also seems to bring out the best in Abueva, who came away with 20 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, and one block in 32 minutes against the Texters.
Trillo said the Aces also do not want to retaliate to the cheap shots.
“We don’t want to give up dirty fouls," he said. "We give physical fouls. That’s the brand of basketball we want to play.”