ALASKA aims to keep feeding off the energy of Calvin Abueva while Tropang TNT seeks to match it as they collide on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum for the last Final Four spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
While the Aces and Texters’ imports have been anchoring their respective teams, Rob Dozier and David Simon are the first to admit the enormous impact Abueva makes whenever the Alaska workhorse steps on the floor.
“It’s Calvin,” Dozier said. “Ever since I’ve known him, he’s a hustler. Every time he comes in the game, he changes the tempo, the pace gets faster, and our defensive intensity rises.”
“He’s definitely a game-changer for us,” he added.
While Abueva, who has averaged 17.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.2 steals in just 27 minutes to become one of the frontrunners for the Best Player of the Conference award, is a boon to the Aces, he’s definitely a bane to the Texters.
“He’s one guy that always plays hard and keeps the pressure on you,” Simon said. “Whenever you face a guy like that, you have to always be ready. I’ve played with a couple of them (like Abueva). A lot of guys don’t always play that hard every game like you see him play.
“But it’s definitely something you’ll notice and something you got to be aware of when you play against them,” he added.
What’s scarier is that Abueva is taking his three-pointers with more confidence, resulting in more conversions, having hit 19 of his 45 attempts from beyond the arc for a solid 42.2 percent clip so far this conference.
“The last four to five games just watching him on offense, his confidence has skyrocketed,” Dozier said. “His shooting ability has gotten way better and that has opened up his driving lanes, a lot easier.”
“I hope he continues,” he added. “He’s doing a great job for us.”
Abeuva tries to lead Alaska anew in the rubber match of the best-of-three series that tips off at 7 p.m. with winner earning the right to face top seed Meralco in a best-of-five semifinal series starting on Monday.