COACH Alex Compton never doubted Calvin Abueva can bounce back big for Alaska a day after he was fined for a punching incident against Rain or Shine’s Jonathan Uyloan.
After all, that has been the mark of a great player. And that’s what Abueva is in the eyes of his coach.
“I’m sure you’re gonna play great (on Game Five), and I don’t have to worry na hindi mauulit 'yan,” Compton recalled telling Abueva in a short conversation after accompanying 'The Beast' to the office of Commissioner Chito Salud for the Game Four infraction that saw him forearm Uyloan in the stomach.
The former San Sebastian star was meted a P20,000 fine but escaped suspension.
Added Comption, “He already knew he’s been great and it’s been him.”
That’s exactly how Abueva was in Saturday’s Game Five of the Philippine Cup semifinals series as he continued to play relentless basketball only he could dish off in the Aces’ 93-88 come-from-behind win over the Elasto Painters.
Abueva was intensity personified, leading the Aces with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and two block shots, including one over bruising Rain or Shine forward JR Quinahan, as the Uytengsu franchise moved within a win of reaching the finals for the first time since the 2013 Commissioner's Cup.
And unlike the previous game, the undersized power forward never snapped this time and kept his cool in check despite getting involved in some physical contact with Rain or Shine players, in particular Ryan Arana, who hit Abueva with an elbow in the neck shortly after getting a rebound.
“He’s taken a lot of shots this conference and not hit back, it’s something we emphasized. He took some shots in the face (in Game Five) and he didn’t hit back and he kept playing,” said Compton. “That’s tough to do as a man. When somebody cheap-shots you, your instinct is gaganti ka. But that shows his level of maturity.”
Compton said Abueva never discussed with the team the incident with Uyloan, although everybody is aware how the third-year pro felt about it especially that he’s been relatively ‘behaved’ the entire conference until the Game Four episode.
“We all knew he felt bad, he felt terrible,” said the American coach.
But Abueva was quick to atone for his miscue and rebounded the way great players do.
“He’s handled it great,” said Compton. “I’m happy for him and proud of him the way he bounced back.”