EVERYTHING seemed to have gone wrong for Manila North in its debut game in the Fiba 3x3 World Tour Manila Masters on Saturday.
Calvin Abueva wasn’t around when the game against Xinzhuang started at the SM Megamall while Ian Sangalang sprained his ankle midway through the 10-minute game, leaving Manila North with just Vic Manuel and Jake Pascual to play against three Taiwanese players.
When Manuel suffered a two-inch cut just below his right eye during a rebound scuffle, it appeared that Pascual would be the only player left on the floor for the hosts, until 'The Beast' appeared from nowhere to rescue his undermanned side.
As the jampacked crowd erupted in cheers, Abueva, arriving straight from the Trinity General Hospital where his wife Sam has been in labor since 10 a.m. on Saturday, scored a flurry of jumpers, drives, and putbacks to pound Xinachuang into submission, 21-11.
“Nagsimula siya (wife) mag-labor nung madaling araw,” said Abueva, who scored 10 of Manila North’s last 12 points to lead his team to victory.
“Hinatid ko muna siya sa ospital, then pumunta ako sa Megamall para mag-shootaround muna, then bumalik akong ospital uli para maghintay,” explained the 26-year-old flamboyant Alaska forward.
Abueva said he got caught in a traffic jam along Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong on his way to Megamall, where he parked his car right in front of the mall’s entrance.
“Traffic pa at nagmamadali, iniwan ko na nga sasakyan ko sa labas eh,” he said.
Playing against a tall Taiwanese trio, the former PBA Rookie of the Year said his mindset the moment he stepped on the floor was to go hard to the basket each time and play hard-nosed defense.
“Iniisip ko talaga puro go hard na lang, depensa lang. Bahala na, kung pumasok tira nila (Xinzhuang) sa labas swerte sila. Eh kaso nagmi-miss din, so dun kami nakaka-create,” he said.
With the win, Manila North gained safe passage into the knockout quarterfinal round. Xinzhuang lost its second game in a row, having fallen to Auckland, 20-13, in an earlier game.