FOR Calvin Abueva, there's no better time for Phoenix Pulse to show its fangs than the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup.
"Ito ang best time, all-Filipino, kasi walang imports. Dito namin kailangang ilabas yung maturity namin," said the energetic forward.
Traded to the Fuel Masters before the third conference, Abueva has been a big reason for the team's rise in the season-ending Governors' Cup, steering the squad to the two-seed at the end of the eliminations after missing the playoffs for the past three conferences.
His numbers also showed that, averaging 15.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 blocks in his first tourney with Phoenix.
The performance Abueva had reminded everyone how good the San Sebastian product is, far from the gloomy first two conferences where he went MIA that led to him ending his six-year run with Alaska.
Unfortunately, inexperience got the better of Phoenix when playoff time rolled on as it squandered its twice-to-beat edge to Meralco and bowed out at the quarterfinal stage.
In Abueva's eyes, as much of an achievement it was for the Fuel Masters to nab the two-seed at the end of the eliminations, it should also serve as an eye opener if they want to be regarded as one of the contenders this season.
"Kailangan talaga itaas namin ang laro namin pagdating ng quarters. Nakapunta na kami doon (sa quarters) kaya talagang mas malaking experience pa dapat ang dalhin namin sa court," he said.
And Abueva couldn't be more pumped as he prepares for his first full season with Phoenix.
"New team, new year, so talagang mas lalo kong mino-motivate ang sarili ko para makatulong sa team na ito," he said.