CALVIN Abueva is one of the most exciting new players in the PBA but in the eyes of cage legend Fortunato 'Atoy' Co, the Alaska super rookie looks very familiar.
The Crispa great said he has long admired the rookie sensation, describing Abueva as a throwback player from the pro league's golden age in the seventies and eighties when a different breed of men roamed the Big Dome floor.
Co had three words that best described Abueva's brand of play: "Barakong barako lumaro."
"Isa si Calvin sa mga gusto kong lumaro na player ngayon,” said Co, the two-time PBA MVP and now coach of the Mapua Cardinals in the NCAA. “Abueva is strong. Masipag saka matibay parang mga players nung araw.”
With his audacity, boundless energy, and single-minded determination on the floor, Abueva would have been perfect for that bygone era when true warriors put everything on the line in each game, Co said.
Of course, an irreverent player like Abueva would have been a likely target for the pro league's bruisers at that time, like Oscar Rocha, Johnny Revilla, and Robert Jaworski, he added.
“Talagang si Calvin yung nakikita ko na tulad nung mga player noong araw na talagang matapang, masipag saka ma-hustle,” said Co. “Ngayon kasi takot makipagpalitan ng mukha ang player eh.
“Yung style ng laro namin talagang balyahan nun. Sakitan. Talagang paglagapak mo sa sahig, patusok ang bagsak ng ulo. Pwede si Calvin dun.
“Sa ganoong laro ni Calvin? Malamang makatikim yun sa mga brusko at balyador noon,” said Co, rattling off the names of “Jawo (Jaworski), Rocha, Rudy Distrito, Alex Clarino, Revilla, Rickie Relosa, Yoyoy Villamin and Rudy Distrito."
If there is one thing Abueva needs to change in his game, it should be his habit of picking on the crowd, the two-time grand slam winner said.
“Huwag na huwag siyang makikipag-away sa crowd. Huwag na huwag niyang aasarin ang audience kahit yung supporters ng kalaban,” said Co, named one of the league's 25 Greatest Players.
“Yung crowd, sila ang nagbibigay sa atin ng buhay. Sila ang magbibigay ng inspirasyon sa iyo. You have to be humble and be an entertainer, that way mas mamahalin ka ng publiko. Yan ang sekreto ng mga sikat na players."
Other than that, Co believes the sky is the limit for 'The Beast.'
“Calvin has been going places in his rookie year, he can still go places, he just has to control his unnecessary actions,” said Co.