BEFORE his breakout game in Alaska's 86-77 win against San Mig in the opener of their PBA Commissioner's Cup best-of-three series, Calvin Abueva had a heart-to-heart talk with his longtime patron.
According to Pampanga vice-governor Dennis Pineda, who also handles the career of San Mig rookie big man Ian Sangalang, he had to summon Abueva last weekend to talk to him about the dip in his game.
“Pinatawagan ko talaga si Calvin. Kinausap ko at inalam ko kung may problema ba siya,” said the soft-spoken politician. “Napansin ko nga kasi talaga bumaba ang numbers niya, pero hindi mo pa rin masabi kasi malalaki ang imports ngayon, iwan si Calvin sa height.”
Pineda, who was also behind the rise of reigning MVP Arwind Santos of San Miguel, admitted he was concerned about the decline in Abueva’s numbers this season, compared to his breakout rookie campaign last year.
After averaging a near double-double of 12.25 points and 9.37 rebounds on the way to winning Rookie of the Year honors, Abueva saw his numbers dip to 9.04 points and 7.16 rebounds this season.
In 10 games this conference, Abueva has only scored in double figures thrice, and that includes his stellar 12-point, eight-rebound, two-assist, two-block performance on Monday against the Mixers.
“Pinag-report ko talaga sa akin at kinausap ko ng one on one, inalam ko kung may problema ba siya sa pamilya o kung ano, (sabi n'ya) okay naman na siya,” said Pineda.
“Nahihiya rin kasi ako sa Alaska kung ganun ang magiging performance niya,. Isa siya sa haligi ng team, defending champion pa naman,” said the son of Pampanga governor Lilia Pineda.
Pineda said he also took to notice of the sudden plunge in the popularity of Abueva, which was mirrored in the All Star balloting last month.
'The Beast' failed to make it to the starting five of the PBA All Star Selection balloting which he topped with James Yap last year, although he was voted in by league coaches.
“Malaking bagay 'yun ha, 'yung nawala tayo sa All Stars,” said Pineda. “Medyo napag-iiwanan nga tayo ngayon, kaya kinausap ko, nasa top pa naman siya dati.”
And with the resurgence of Abueva’s game, Pineda said he can never be happier.
“Sana magtuloy-tuloy na ulit ang magandang laro niya, para makatulong siya nang husto sa tagumpay ng Alaska,” said Pineda.
Aside from Abueva and Sangalang, Pineda also handles the career of other top amateurs like Ronald Pascual, Dexter Maiquez and Michael Miranda among others.