WHAT he failed to accomplish in his final playing year in college, Calvin Abueva achieved right in his first year as a pro.
The rookie sensation earned his very first PBA championship Sunday night as Alaska dominated crowd favorite Ginebra in three games of the Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five Finals at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
And to think just seven months ago, Abueva left college basketball in frustration after San Sebastian failed in its NCAA title bid after being booted out by Letran in the Final Four.
"Masarap ang pakiramdam kasi first year ko pa lang nakuha ko na yung championship dito (sa PBA)," said Abueva, who won an NCAA crown with the Stags in 2009 and then lost twice in a row to the San Beda Red Lions in the Finals.
“Hindi ko man nakuha sa NCAA, pero pinag-hirapan ko talaga para dito makuha ko na (ang championship)."
Among the Alaska personnel more than happy for Abueva winning his first PBA title, it’s definitely assistant coach Topex Robinson.
"Of course, I'm super proud!" exclaimed Robinson, a former coach of Abueva with San Sebastian.
"Parang anak mo na nag-champion. Accomplishment niya is accomplishment of the team."
Robinson didn’t win a championship as Stags coach and Abueva as one of his players.
Now the title drought for both Abueva and Robinson is over.
"Sobrang fulfilling kasi nga we have an unfinished business," said Robinson.
"Hopefully, many more championships to come (for me and Calvin). He has a long way to go, he really deserves this (championship), he's really working hard," added Robinson.
"And as much as people are hating him he's really a winner."
Abueva, the No. 2 overall selection in the last rookie draft, said he’s not affected by haters who grew by the numbers each day in the same manner he has began to develop a fan base which loves and idolizes him.
“Mag-hate lang sila nang mag hate! Ha ha ha!" Abueva said with a laugh as he wipes his forehead to show his indifference on his haters.
"Basta ako gagawin ko lang ang best ko para makatulong sa team, at ngayon champion pa kami. Di naman ako na aapektuhan sa mga sinasabi nila, salita lang naman `yun. Mas lumalakas pa nga ako sa kaka-hate nila."
Abueva knows the championship is just the start of what he believes are bigger things in store for him in the league.
“Syempre ang sarap kasi nakuha namin itong championship, " he said. "Pero hindi lang naman ako eh, buong team namin nag-teamwork."
"Siguro di ako nanalo sa NCAA kasi dito ko makukuha `yung championship sa PBA."