ALASKA coach Luigi Trillo admitted he has been having a hard time trying to keep Calvin Abueva focused amid the hype surrounding his historic shot at a rookie-MVP coup in the PBA.
The league’s top individual awards will not be handed out until after a few weeks, but Trillo is concerned thoughts of joining Benjie Paras as the only players in history to win both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards on the same year has been a distraction for Abueva.
“It’s very hard (to keep Abueva focused) because the press really makes a big thing about the Rookie of the Year and MVP. And granted because he’s done so well, so there’s a lot of pressure on him,” Trillo told Spin.ph.
Trillo said he’s aware of Abueva’s increasing tendency to get out of control during games in the season-ending conference, which he said may have been caused by the pressure Abueva is putting on himself to deliver day in and day out to be deserving of both top individual awards.
Instead of a rise in performance, there has been a dip in the numbers for Abueva.
Over the last seven games, the energetic Alaska freshman normed 8.7 points and 7.0 rebounds on 35.4 percent field goal shooting, well below his season averages of 12.4 points and 9.4 rebounds.
In all seven games, the 25-year-old, high-leaping forward has been a little too eager, which speaks of his close to five fouls per game average.
“He’s got to understand what we’re doing. He’s best at the four (power forward) and he’s doing a lot of stuff for us and a lot of sacrifices,” explained the Alaska mentor.
“We’ve been throwing him around at four and three, so he hasn’t really got it, but this is a learning process for him. When he’s doing well, we leave him inside,” he added.
Before Wednesday’s start of the PBA Governors Cup playoffs, the 6-foot-1 Abueva remained second in the statistical points race for this season’s MVP. The former San Sebastian College standout has a total of 28.5 SPs, behind Petron Blaze superstar forward Arwind Santos’ MVP derby-leading 30.3.
The “Beast” played just 17 minutes in another foul-plagued game Wednesday, though luckily, the Alaska Aces scraped out a 112-105 win over No. 2 seed San Mig Coffee to force a winner-take-all showdown on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena for a semifinal berth.
Abueva, too eager to perform, picked up his fifth personal foul, 46 seconds into the fourth period, forcing Trillo to take him out for good and replacing him with veteran Tony dela Cruz.
Despite Abueva’s tendency to overdo himself, Trillo thanked his rookie for doing a lot to help the Aces regain their place among the top teams in the pro league, as evidenced by their Commissioner’s Cup championship last summer with import Robert Dozier.
“He’ll do well. I have faith in him. Make no mistake, he’s a part of our team, and there’s a lot of upside on what he needs to do. I have no doubt, he’ll still get better,” said Trillo.
“He’s one of the reasons why we’ve had a very successful season.”