GILAS Pilipinas’ loss is Alaska’s gain.
That’s the general sentiment from the Alaska camp after Aces star Calvin Abueva missed the cut along with LA Tenorio for the Final 12 of the Gilas team that will fly the flag in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next month.
“Good for us sa Alaska kasi he doesn’t have to rest,” Dondon Hontiveros, a former Gilas captain, told SPIN.ph after practice on Monday. “He can start right after the tournament, unlike sa amin (last year) na pinapahinga pa kami ni coach for a week.”
Still, Aces assistant coach Louie Alas rued the absence of Abueva in the national team that is On an ambitious quest to get the Philippines back to the Olympics.
“We never expected it (the decision), pero baka may nakikita sila na hindi natin nakikita,” said Alas, who has been running Alaska practice in lieu of head coach and Gilas assistant Alex Compton.
Hontiveros agreed, particularly mentioning Abueva’s boundless energy that can spell a huge difference in international matches, but conceded to the national coaching staff’s decision.
“They know better,” the Gilas 3.0 skipper said. “It’s hard for us looking from the outside kung ano ang plano nila, ano yung sa tingin nila na best lineup that would compete.”
“Of course, yung energy ni Calvin is a difference-maker kasi in a forty-minute international game, yung mga two-minute run can really dictate the game,” he added. “Pero mahirap yung trabaho ng coach … Nakita na nga ng mga fans (kung ano laro niya) … at sa Fiba pa nga, inaano na si Calvin as shoo-in of making the twelve. But they know better than us mga fans.”
Asked if he has an idea how Baldwin came to his decision, having played for him in the Gilas team during last year’s Fiba Asia Championship, Hontiveros feels the national coach could be giving other players chances to provide what Abueva brings.
“Ang maibigay lang ni Calvin talaga yung spark, energy and I guess he’s (Baldwin’s) hoping from the other guys na mailabas din yun,” Hontiveros said.
“It might be Japeth (Aguilar) playing the four because his length and athleticism kailangan sa international,” he added. “Or it might be Parks, it might be Bobby Ray’s growth or breakout performance like what happened with Terrence (Romeo) and Calvin the last time.”
“Kahit sino naman i-line up mo, magagawa naman nila ang pinapagawa,” the Aces’ top deputy said. “Kaya nga cream of the crop yan sila.”
“May makakagawa naman ng mga nagagawa ni Calvin,” he added. “So kahit anong mangyari, support pa rin tayo.”