GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said he hopes Calvin Abueva will show up for the national team's practices, admitting he has long kept an eye on the hard-driving, do-it-all Alaska freshman.
“Matagal ko nang gusto si Calvin. Gusto ko talagang ipasok siya sa pool,” said Reyes, admitting steps taken to draft the former NCAA MVP in the original Gilas pool failed to get beyond first base.
Reyes' statement came just days after Alaska team owner Wilfred Uytengsu said he is open to releasing his freshman sensation to the Gilas pool if and when he is needed.
“If they (Gilas) want him (Abueva), I guess we will talk about that, too," Uytengsu told Spin.ph after Alaska completed a sweep of Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals.
Reyes, however, said previous efforts to secure the freshman's services for Gilas failed to gain ground.
Of late, Reyes has brought in several PBA players to make up the numbers in practice while several members of the 15-man Gilas pool are either recovering from injuries or recharging their batteries after the Commissioner's Cup playoffs.
Petron's Arwind Santos showed up on Tuesday while more players, like Beau Belga, Paul Lee, Jay-R Reyes, Alex Cabagnot, KG Canaleta, Denok Miranda and Chris Tiu are expected to follow suit in the coming days. (For related article, click here: Santos and Co.'s arrival in Gilas practice fans hopes of late call-up)
Reyes said he hopes Abueva will get the green light, too.
“Sana dumating si Abueva (sa isa sa mga practices namin). Hopefully, payagan ng Alaska,” said the multi-titled coach.
Pampanga vice governor Dennis Pineda, Abueva's manager, believes the former San Sebastian star can play a pivotal role in the national team, considering that the bull-strong 6-1 1/2 guard can play multiple positions.
“Nakita niyo naman yung kakayahan ni Calvin. He can score, set up his teammates, defend and sometimes get into the nerves of the other team’s top player,” said Pineda. “Malaking bagay yun.”
Pineda also believes Abueva can make an immediate impact on the Asian level.
“Malamang magulat ang ibang teams sa mga kayang gawin ni Calvin, especially his energy. Para sa bansa natin ito. Pero syempre we need to respect the decision of his mother team,” added the soft-spoken sports patron.