ALASKA’s current struggle in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup has been taking its toll on the confidence of talented sophomore Calvin Abueva.
The Aces are bunched together with Meralco, San Mig, and Globalport at the bottom half of the standings with similar 4-7 slate and needing to turn it around with the playoffs just around the corner.
Four of the team’s seven losses were in games decided by four points or less, the most recent a heartbreaking 117-121 overtime defeat at the hands of three-time defending champion Talk `N Text.
They Said It!
“I think once you have a good year, teams start to figure you out." - Alaska Aces coach Luigi Trillo
Worse, Abueva, the team's sparkplug and Energizer Bunny last season, has yet to hit top form after a sensational debut season that at certain times during the campaign had inspired talk of a rookie-MVP feat.
“Iyung first season ko malaki kumpiyansa ko, pero parang dito (Philippine Cup) biglang bumaba dahil sa mga nangyayari sa amin,” the 6-foot-1 Abueva confided to Spin.ph after the team’s practice at the Gatorade Hoops Center on Thursday.
The former NCAA Most Valuable Player is still averaging decent numbers though of 11.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists through 10 games - though well below his numbers in this same tournament last season.
Abueva admitted his penchant for fouling out or at least getting into foul trouble has limited his chances of helping the Aces in the stretch run of most of their games this conference.
Nonetheless, Abueva said he has learned to taper off his overeagerness, pointing out that he managed to stay out of foul trouble in three of Alaska’s last four games.
“Mabuti ngayon nalilimitahan ko na fouls ko, kaya gumaganda na laro ko pero tuloy tuloy itong adjustment ko,” said the relentless sophomore from Pampanga.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, however, has a different take. He feels Abueva may have been “shackled” somewhat this season.
By who, he isn't saying.
“I just feel last year, they were allowing him to be Calvin,” admitted the young mentor, without specifically elaborating whom he referred to when he said “they.”
Also, Trillo felt some teams have also found ways to neutralize the 'Beast' this conference after seeing him roar during his rookie year.
“I think once you have a good year, teams start to figure you out,” he added.
Yet, Trillo said he’s still happy that despite the seeming limitations, Abueva is still trying his best to score, rebound, hustle, and do everything he can to help Alaska turn its season around.
“Right now, he still shows the energy, takes the charge, draws the foul and he’s getting those rebounds,” noted the Alaska coach.