ALASKA put country over club on Friday as it chose to rest Calvin Abueva, who was nursing a minor lip injury but probably could’ve played in the team’s 94-86 loss to Phoenix in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Already missing Vic Manuel and Chris Banchero, the Aces decided not to take a risk on Abueva, a Gilas Pilipinas pool member who is likely to make the final Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship roster.
“We needed to rest Calvin,” Aces coach Alex Compton said. “That cut on his mouth was bad and though he had a mask, he’s going into an opportunity to represent the country in Gilas.”
“What if it gets split open bad, and I don’t know if you guys notice, but Calvin plays pretty hard, so his mouth is around elbows a lot, so we couldn’t really jeopardize him,” he added. "We have to paint the whole picture.”
Expecting Abueva to make the final Gilas lineup, Compton admitted the Aces had to figure out a way to win without 'The Beast.'
“It’s our job – my job – to learn how to win without him when he can’t play,” the American mentor said. “And we didn’t get it done today.”
Cory Jefferson did his job, but drew little support from the locals including Simon Enciso, who failed to make statement in his first game against his former team, Phoenix, tallying just five points in 33 minutes as a starter.
“I’m not worried,” Compton insisted of Enciso. “He’s going to have some games where he explodes. He’s going to have some games where he doesn’t score as much or do as much. I’m really more concerned with him learning our defense, just running the team.”
“But he’s got a good skillset that fits in with us,” he added. “A lot of times, players, particularly young ones that are coming from the team that traded them, sobrang gigil. But I didn’t really feel that with him.
"It’s an import conference. Simon’s not going to get twenty-five shots. He’s going to run the team. I think the thing that stood out was that RJ (Jazul) played great. It wasn’t that Simon played poorly.”