DIGOS CITY - Former Alaska star Kenneth Duremdes has no doubt in his mind: Calvin Abueva is bound to be the Aces' next franchise player, if he isn't already the one.
“No brainer na iyan, si Abueva na,” Duremdes told Spin.ph on Friday, adding the 6-1 rookie sensation has the talent and the grit to be the heart of the retooled Alaska organization under coach Luigi Trillo for years to come.
The now-retired Duremdes, who won his only MVP trophy in 1998 with the Uytengsu organization, said Abueva has a game that is well beyond his age - the reason he can still stand out in a league filled with Fil-foreign players.
“He (Abueva) doesn’t even play like a rookie because the way he plays, it’s like parang naglalaro na siya five or six years sa PBA,” noted Duremdes, who was to play for the PBA Stalwarts team late Friday in the Legends game featuring both active and retired players.
“Eh nung bata kami, di naman kami kasing dominante kagaya niya. Maybe because sa time namin, kami ang pinapanood nila, kaya mas madali silang maka-adjust sa gusto nilang ilaro,” he added.
Though short at 6-1 1/2 for the power forward position, Abueva is averaging a near double-double of 10.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in 17 games thus far in the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup, which features imports of unlimited height.
At the end of the 14-game elimination round, the No. 2 pick in this year's rookie draft is just behind Barangay Ginebra guard LA Tenorio in the race for the Best Player of the Conference award.
Duremdes said the former NCAA MVP is not as skilled offensively as some of the league's other superstars. But what sets 'The Beast' apart is his big, fighting heart, he added.
“Wala siyang specific move, puso lang ng bata eh. He’s not as skilled like Cyrus (Baguio), James (Yap) or other athletic players, pero puso lang. Sipag at saka puso,” he said.
“Imagine, para siyang Rudy Hatfield na may offense ... Iyan ang di natuturo sa players eh, kahit anong gawin niya, nasa kanya na yun eh, puso sa laro.”