Rumor: Alaska star Calvin Abueva was once shot by an irate official from an opposing team during a 'ligang labas' game back when he was still a teen and still has the bullet embedded in his body to this day.
Facts: This story has long been talked about in basketball circles as Abueva rose from his humble roots to become one of the biggest stars in the PBA today - often dismissed as an urban legend that only served to add to the mystery surrounding the player they call 'The Beast.'
But it turned out to be true.
Contacted by Spin.ph to either confirm or deny the story, Abueva's longtime adviser Atty. Charlie Chua bared that indeed, the hard-banging Abueva was once shot in the abdomen after playing in a bush league in Angeles City, long before he donned the San Sebastian jersey in the NCAA,
Asked to recollect the events, Chua, the most trusted staff of Abueva's discoverer and Pampanga vice governor Dennis Pineda, said the shooting incident happened more than 10 years ago when a teenaged Calvin was asked to play as a 'hugot' in a ligang labas.
What Abueva didn't know, Chua said, was that a lot of bets where placed in the game by the rival team managers.
""Hindi alam ni Calvin na malaki ang pustahan ng laro na 'yun. Kasi inaya lang siya ng mga kaibigan nya nun,"" recalled Chua. ""Bata pa siya nun, mga 17 lang yata, basta bago pa siya mapunta sa San Sebastian.""
""Nagkataon malaki ang pustahan nun. Hindi naman alam ni Calvin dahil lumalaro lang naman siya. Sa barangay leagues kasi hugutan ng players, di ba? Si Calvin nga ang hugot nung kabilang team na nanalo.
""Sa sobrang galing sa laro ni Calvin, nagalit sa kanya 'yung team manager nung kabilang team. Tinira siya,"" he added.
Abueva's former trainer, Allan Trinidad, confirmed the shooting incident indeed happened and to this day considers 'The Beast' lucky to escape any serious harm from the gunshot wound.
""Sa abs niya tumama yung bala. Kaya hindi bumaon, walang organ na tinamaan,"" said Trinidad, the former head coach of San Sebastian and now the coach of Pampanga's provincial team.
But contrary to the rumor, Trinidad said there is no bullet embedded in Abueva's body.
""Naalis rin agad 'yung bala. Hindi naka-penetrate ng mabuti, saka maliit lang yung bala. Bente dos kalibre (22-caliber) lang ang ginamit,"" he said.
Chua said Abueva was hospitalized for two days and was up and about in no time, but the incident prompted Pineda to order his Team Delta staff to be more selective of the leagues where their players suit up.
""Naghigpit na kami nun. Kasi yung nilaruan ni Calvin that time, hindi namin alam yun. Kasi puro mga bata pa sila nun eh. Saka that time, bawal na siya sa mga commercial games. Barangay liga lang talaga 'yun, naging mainitan nga lang,"" said Chua.
""After niya ma-ospital nun, hindi na siya pinaglalaro ni boss (Pineda) sa mga ligang labas na hindi niya authorized. Sa ligang labas kasi sinasanay ni boss ang mga players niya, tulad si Calvin at Arwind (Santos). Kaso after nung nangyari, pinipili na niya mga papayagang laruan nila Calvin, lalo si Calvin.""
Asked about the scary experience, Abueva's mother Evelyn bared her son has learned at an early age not to be intimidated by anything.
""Si Calvin naman kasi kahit takutin mo ng baril, basta't lumalaro siya, hindi siya papatakot. Kasi para sa kanya ang paglalaro ng basketball eh parang naging paglaban namin sa kahirapan,"" said Mrs. Abueva.
""Walang mangyayari kung magpapatakot ka. Alam kasi ni Calvin at tinuro ni Vice gov (Pineda) sa kanya na ang numero unong hahadlang sa asenso mo eh takot na nasa puso mo. Si Calvin, wala nun. Gusto niya lang lagi eh manalo at ipagtanggol ang team na dinadala niya,"" she added.
And what happened to the shooter?
Trinidad bared Abueva eventually forgave him.
""Pinatawad niya na rin. Kasi kilala naman niya yung tao. Alam mo naman si Calvin, mabait 'yun. Saka gala rin siya eh, ayaw niya ng may kaaway saka alam niya na may pamilya rin yung tao.
""Wala namang nangyaring masama sa kanya, humingi na rin ng tawad yung tao,"" added Trinidad. ""Si Calvin ang isang maton na nakilala ko na may malambot na puso.""