AFTER a lot of soul-searching for both coach and player during the break in between conferences, Alaska coach Luigi Trillo hopes a new role as well as 'renewed commitment' for Calvin Abueva will lead to a reawakening for the player known as 'The Beast.'
Abueva, the reigning Rookie of the Year, is coming off a Philippine Cup campaign where he made more news for the troubles he got involved in that for his play in the season-opening conference where the Aces fell out of contention at the quarterfinal stage.
Trillo, however, see renewed hunger and commitment from Abueva since the Philippine Cup disappointment, which team insiders said had prompted a rethink among Alaska officials on whether the former NCAA MVP should be a part of the organization over the long haul.
“He’s coming into the game with a whole new approach. I see willingness and hunger (from him) to contribute in anyway,” Trillo confided to Spin.ph before the start of Alaska’s practice on Tuesday at the Gatorade Hoops Center.
The Alaska coach also bared that he is switching Abueva from his usual power forward role in the all-Filipino to the off-guard/small forward position, where Trillo hopes the sophomore's brute strength will give him an edge over the guards of opposing teams.
The role switch will also veer Abueva away from constant battles with opposing imports while banking on his quickness to help him keep in step with the guards of other teams.
“He’s (Abueva) playing a different role for us. I think you can put him at a 4 (power forward) anytime, but he has a comfort zone at the 2 (off guard) and 3 (small forward),” explained Trillo. “It’s nice see him with that. I know he wants to do better than what he did last conference.”
Meantime, Abueva has promised to steer clear of 'distractions' and keep his focus on the court.
“Wala na 'yun (distractions) kasi ifo-focus ko na sarili ko sa conference na ito,” said the 26-year-old former San Sebastian Stag, vowing to shake off the so-called 'sophomore jinx.'
Abueva added he’s thankful to the people who stood by him during his conference-long struggle.
“Hindi lang naman ako nage-effort (to get focused again) kundi pati teammates ko, family at coaches ko. Saka sila na rin nagsasabi na kailangang mai-defend namin ang crown,” added Abueva, who averaged 10.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in just 20.8 minutes per contest in the Philippine Cup.