CALVIN Abueva thanked Marc Pingris for entrusting him the welfare of Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 following the veteran forward’s exti from the national team.
“Salamat kay Ping,” was the curt reply of Abueva in reply to the veteran forward with whom he developed a deep bond during their time together with Gilas two years ago.
“Alam ko rin naman yung mga hard work na ginagawa mo, yung ginagawa ko (sa Gilas).”
Pingris, 35, was quick to anoint Abueva as his successor as the ‘voice’ of Gilas, the one in-charge of pumping up the team after every practice with his patented battle cry, ‘Laban, Pilipinas!’ to which the players would reply ‘Puso.’
Actually, Abueva already reprised the role in the past in the times Pingris wasn’t around.
“Siya na rin yung parang pumalit sa akin,” Pingris told SPIN.ph staff writer Karlo Sacamos in a separate interview just a day after national coach Chot Reyes named the 12 other veteran PBA players who will fill up the 24-man Gilas training pool.
Grateful as he was to Pingris, Abueva said he’s more focus right now on helping Alaska make a return trip to the Philippine Cup finals. The Aces twice lost to defending champion San Miguel Beer in the all-Filipino title series the past two seasons.
“Siyempre dito muna sa team natin. Focus muna tayo,” said the 28-year-old pride of Angeles City. “Hindi ko muna masyadong iniisip yan kasi mahalaga itong all-Filipino. Ito muna ang dapat naming bigyan ng atensyon.”
Along with LA Tenorio, Abueva was included in the last two cuts in the final roster of Gilas 4.0 that competed in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament here at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Abueva was vocal enough about being hurt with his exclusion from the national team roster that he vowed to concentrate more on helping Alaska’s campaign.
But now that he’s been named anew as part of Gilas, what’s in the mind of Abueva?
“Yun nga sabi nila ‘The Beast’ is back,” said a smiling Abueva before quickly excusing himself.