ARWIND Santos and Calvin Abueva figured in several physical plays when Petron and Alaska clashed in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup over the weekend at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
But outside the court, both men said they have nothing but respect for each other.
“Oo,” Abueva was quick to reply when asked by Spin.ph how he admires Santos as a player. “Yung pagka-masipag niya, ‘yun ang gusto kong makuha sa kanya.”
To which Santos quipped: “Maganda nilalaro niya. Kitang-kita naman natin sa points and rebounds. Ipagpatuloy lang niya.”
That’s why both players downplayed their intense clashes during the game, which the Boosters won by a hairline, 86-85.
“Wala ‘yun talagang sa game, part ‘yun. Pero sa labas, okay kami,” said Abueva.
“Okay naman kami ni Calvin,” added Santos. “Isa lang ‘yung nag-alaga sa amin. In fact, nagkita nga kami sa Pampanga kasi nag-award kami, kasama ko siya doon.”
“Natural lang ‘yun,” said Santos about him and Abueva playing physical against each other. “Yung iba nga magkapatid, naglalaban, kami pa kayang magkababayan. Trabaho lang kami.”
Santos and Abueva have a lot in common.
Both players came from humble beginnings in Pampanga. Both are being handled by Pampanga vice governor Dennis Pineda. Both were also big winners during the last Leo Awards when Abueva emerged as Rookie of the Year and Santos the season’s Most Valuable Player.
And just how much admiration the two `cabalens’ have for each other is reflected in the way Santos sees himself in Abueva, whom he had seen grow from a budding player in small leagues played in cement courts in Pampanga to full stardom in the pro league.
“Si Calvin, nakakatuwa kasi nung nakalaro ko siya sa Pampanga, nakita ko na talaga na may potential siya,” recalled the lanky forward out of Far Eastern University.
“Nakikita ko siya sa sarili ko na naglalaro para sa ice tubig, pustahan, ligang labas, na gusto niyang magpakita at magpasikat.
“Hindi niya iniisip ‘yung hirap at katayuan niya. Hindi naman siya ganoon kayaman noon. Ginawa niyang inspirasyon ‘yun,” said Santos.
The Petron star even went to the extent of coming to the defense of the Alaska sophomore forward, who has become the target of haters for his physical plays and irreverent demeanor inside the playing court.
“Nakikita ko na binu-boo siya. Hindi ko alam kung masaya siya doon o okay siya doon. Ako naman, nakikita ko sa kanya na ganoon lang talaga siya. May mga tao na nagdidikta na hindi naman siya kilala,” said Santos.
Informed about how Abueva admires him as a player, Santos was just too glad to serve as an inspiration to him, and hopes his `cabalen’ continues with his good play.
“Sana malaki rin ang naitulong ko sa kanya para maalagaan ‘yung magandang ginagawa niya ngayon,” said Santos.