ALASKA'S flamboyant forward Calvin Abueva doesn’t deny the fact that he’s been struggling to regain the form that made him last season’s Rookie of the Year.
But on Wednesday, the undersized power forward once again showed all the qualities that earned him the moniker 'The Beast,' making three huge baskets while providing the defensive hustle late in Alaska's 78-71 win over Barako Bull in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
“Iyung laro ko ngayon paiba-iba. Yung last game kasi namin (against San Miguel Beer) tinamaan ako sa tuhod, kanina pinagtiyagaan ko lang para manalo kami,” Abueva told Spin.ph after the game, where he finished with a near double-double of nine points and nine rebounds.
The 6-1 1/2 former NCAA MVP also combined with Gabby Espinas in making life miserable for Barako Bull’s prolific import Joshua Dollard, who was held to 26 points on 7-for-19 shooting after averaging more than 35 points in his first six PBA games.
Abueva, who is averaging career-lows of just 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds this conference, admitted that defending Dollard was no easy job owing to the Barako Bull reinforcement’s combination of upper body strength and quickness.
“Mahirap talaga bantayan ang import na iyan eh. Eh siyempre may lahi lang kami. Eh yun (Dollard), puro. So kami (with Espinas), tina-tiyaga lang namin (on defense),” explained Alaska’s No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 PBA rookie draft.
With Alaska at 4-3, Abueva said the Aces must win their last two games to get a shot at a higher seeding heading into the knockout rounds.
“Maganda yung sistema namin. Maganda din ang execution namin. Umaangat na energy at level namin, so ngayon, sa last two games namin, kailangan manalo,” he said. “Kung maipanalo kasi namin, baka mag-number two (seed) pa kami, malaking bagay 'yun (going to the playoffs).”
Alaska plays Barangay Ginebra on April 13, before winding up its elimination round schedule against San Mig Super Coffee on April 20.