CALVIN Abueva likens his Alaska team to a heavy-duty vehicle that runs on diesel, needing a while to heat up to achieve desired performance.
“Parang diesel na once ini-start mo, kailangan mo munang painitin, ‘di ba?” the Aces star forward said after his team’s 82-77 win over Star in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals on Sunday night. “Parang ganung siguro kami.”
After all, the Aces, for the second time in three games, started sluggishly before gaining steam in the second half to pull off the stunning win and shutout of Star in the best-of-five series.
“Second half, ‘dun lumalabas yung energy at pagka-agresibo namin kaya gumanda laro namin,” Abueva said.
The former Rookie of the Year typified the slow start off the bench as he wound up scoreless in the first quarter, before finishing with five points, nine boards, one block, and one assist in an efficient 22 minutes.
As a unit, the Aces clamped down on the Hotshots on defense, limiting their victims to just 31 points in the last two quarters after allowing 46 in the first half.
“Nalimitahan nila sa opensa nila. Gumanda yung depensa namin 'nung second half,” Abueva said.
Aces coach Alex Compton said it’s never their intention to fall behind early before going on a comeback.
“To be honest with you, I’d rather have the lead at the start,” Compton said.
What’s important is the end result as the Aces have advanced to the finals for the second time in three conferences opposite the survivor of the San Miguel Beer-Rain or Shine Final Four matchup.
“Masaya na nasa finals ulit kami. Sana ibigay na ito sa amin,” Abueva said, adding he has no preference.
“Hindi na namin iniisip,” the Pampanga pride said. “Kung sinong darating, 'yun na lang ang bibigyan namin ng focus.”