CALVIN Abueva and the Alaska Aces are not ready to walk away from their campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The enigmatic power forward led the team’s fourth-quarter charge in an 85-81 win over Tropang TNT that sent their best-of-three quarterfinal playoff to a winner-take-all match.
The decisive Game Three is set Friday also at the Araneta Coliseum.
“Ayaw muna naming sumunod sa iba,” said Abueva, who finished with 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists in the win which kept alive the Aces’ bid to make it back to the semifinals.
Teams already eliminated in the playoffs are seventh-seed NLEX Road Warriors and No. 4 team Barangay Ginebra, which was swept by Rain or Shine in the day's opening game.
“Gusto kong patunayan na may Game Three kaya ayaw ko munang sumunod sa iba,” stressed the man they call ‘The Beast.’
Abueva made that possible when he tied the tightly-fought game at 77 entering the stretch run, and then made the go-ahead basket, 80-79. Alaska stayed on top the rest of the way.
For a moment there, he admitted having to hold his breath after rookie Troy Rosario was left wide open and went for a three-pointer with the Aces hanging on to a slim 83-81 lead.
But the lanky power forward’s shot bounced off the rim, with the Aces collaring the rebound that led to RJ Jazul’s two clinching free throws.
“Buti na lang off-line (yung tira). Kala ko makaka-shoot pa siya,” said Abueva of Rosario’s three-point attempt.
The No.2 overall pick in last year’s rookie draft went on to finish with just eight points on 0-of-4 shooting from three-point range, just two nights after scoring a career-best 31 points spiked by seven three-pointers.
And so it comes down to a one-game knockout for a place in the best-of-five semis against second seed Meralco.
Abueva guarantees fireworks when the two teams meet again three days from now.
“Series tied. Game Three. Ang sarap nito,” he said. “Bakbakan talaga ito.”