“HE is already in the PBA. He has to be professional.”
These were the words Meralco alternate governor Al Panlilio sent out to Alaska Aces sophomore Calvin Abueva in the wake of his much-talked about altercation with Bolts star Jared Dillinger.
Usually elusive to media, Panlilio, a Meralco vice-president, longtime PLDT official and head of the MVP Sports Foundation, said he spoke out to warn the league that Abueva's "antics" have made him a danger to other players.
“It seems that it is already becoming a habit for him to hurt other players, which results in different game controversies. Dalawang taon pa lang siya sa liga, pero ilang beses na siya na-involve sa gulo?” Panlilio said.
“He’s a good player, but he’s arrogant. His extra-curricular activities and his antics do not help his team. In fact, when it happened we were just up by four. After it happened we started to pull away,” he added.
Panlilio said Abueva's game has crossed the line of being merely physical and aggressive.
“You can be physical and passionate, but to the point that you are already trying to hurt somebody else?” said the soft-spoken official.
Panlilio compared Abueva's style of play with that of another physical player in Meralco's Clifford Hodge, who he said "doesn’t get himself involved in so many controversial game issues."
“If you look at Cliff Hodge, they’re both intense players. But Cliff doesn’t hurt his opponent. Abueva’s physicality is already at the borderline of being flagrant,” insisted Panlilio. “There’s a different distinction between that.”
“Plus Abueva has antics that further worsen the situation. He smirks, he sticks his tongue out, he even taunted the (Meralco) bench after the incident.
“He should realize he is already in the professional league. He has to be professional!”
Since he entered the league last season, Abueva has been summoned by league officials a number of times for on- and off-court issues - something that Panlilio thinks PBA officials should be cognizant of.
“So you were asking me, ‘Do I think the problem (with all these ctronversies) is already Abueva?’ I say yes. And this has to be reviewed and looked upon by the league,” added Panlilio.
“Just look at Abueva for one game … Just look at him in that (Meralco) game … he’s been pestering not just JD (Dillinger), but also Gary David and the other players of Meralco. Even yung hindi niya kaposisyon, naiinis niya,” he added.
Still, Panlilio said he has no intention to raise the issue with Commissioner Chito Salud. He added that Meralco management has also asked team governor and present PBA chairman Mon Segismundo to inhibit himself from the probe into the incident.
“I am going on record because it is starting to become a routine for him to be involved in game controversies. I am just afraid that worse incidents o mas malalang gulo pa ang mangyari which might involve him. And I hope that day doesn’t come,” he reiterated.
“I am not against physicality and tough play and being emotional in the game, but if it borders on unsportsmanlike function and hurting the other player - it’s not acceptable. It’s uncalled for. That is not sportsmanship, that is not competition.”
When sought for a reaction, Abueva told Spin.ph that rival players have been very physical on him since he joined the league last season, to the point of hitting him with "cheap shots."
“Bakit ganun? Ako nga ang lagi nilang pinipisikal tapos pag ako na ang mamimisikal, ayaw na nila? Galit na sila?” Abueva, the second pick overall in last season's rookie draft, said.
“Saka bakit sila ang magsasalita … sila ba ang player? Sila ba ang naglalaro at nakikipagbanggan?” he added.