IF two basketball legends will have their way, Calvin Abueva must be a part of the next Gilas Pilipinas team.
Former national player and PBA Freddie Webb said Abueva is just the spark Gilas needs in high-level tournaments like the Fiba Asia championships, thanks to his boundless energy and indomitable spirit.
“Ako si Abueva, gusto kong isali sa team yan. If I have my opinion, kailangan natin sa international yung lumalaban eh. Yung handang masaktan, yung hindi nagdadalawang isip,” Webb told Spin.ph.
Legendary grand slam coach Tommy Manotoc supported the claim of Webb, saying Abueva and his multi-faced game precisely the 'missing piece' for the Gilas program.
“I agree. Abueva is a dime. For me, he can even play point guard. Exactly what we need. He can guard big, he can guard small, he can bring the ball down, he can do a lot of things,” insisted Manotoc.
“As far as talent is concerned, Abueva may be above most of the other Gilas players who were there,” he added of the prized discovery of Pampanga governor Dennis Pineda.
Manotoc said Abueva’s tenacity, fearless personality, and ability to play multiple positions are precisely what Gilas needs in international competitions.
“He (Abueva) deserves to be there (Gilas). One, two, three (spots) kayang kaya niya laruin. Malaking bagay sa atin 'yun. San ka makakakita ng power forward that runs the ball goal to goal?” he told Spin.ph.
“Saka hindi umuurong ang Calvin. Iba ang angas niyan. Walang aatrasan. Hindi iilag 'yan. Yung mga uno-dos natin, titira lang ng three points, wala na. Ito sasagupain pa niya yung kalaban pag nag take-off,” he said.
“Abueva is definitely a must in the next Gilas team!”
Manotoc, however, warned that everything will depend on the coach who will be tasked to handle the Gilas program by a search committee formed by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
There is also the tricky issue on whether Abueva will be loaned to the national team by his mother club.
The hard-banging Angeles native was one of the players included in the first wish list of Chot Reyes, but was not released by Alaska to the Gilas pool owing to a recurring injury on his knee.
Abueva’s longtime adviser, Charlie Chua, expressed elation at the vote of confidence of the two legendary coaches, but claimed that everything will still rest in the management of Alaska.
"Alam naman natin na para sa bayan 'yan at gustong gusto ni Calvin na ma-represent ang Pilipinas, pero call ng management ng Alaska 'yan," said Chua.
“Syempre, kailangan ang clearance ng management ng Alaska. At syempre kung pipiliin siya (ng bagong Gilas management),” said Chua, a trusted officer of Pineda.
“Isa talaga ako sa matutuwa kung mapapasama sa Gilas si Calvin. Kasi iba rin talaga ang ipinapakita niyang laro ngayon. Bumalik yung dati at mas disiplinado pa siya,” added the Pampanga-based lawyer.
Here's a podcast of the interviews: