RECENTLY minted PBA Commissioner’s Cup titlist Alaska is turning to the wonders of Chinese medicine to address the various injuries that have hit top guns Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, JV Casio and Gabby Espinas.
In a drastic shift from the conventional Western-style treatment, the four Aces, vital cogs in the storied run to the franchise's 14th PBA championship, are set to leave in the first week of June for Beijing where treatment involves acupuncture, suction cups, and loads of medicinal tea.
According to longtime Alaska team physician Facundo Sun, the four will be treated at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing by a Chinese expert who he said “has successfully fused the best of the East and the West in her treatment.”
The entire healing process will take two to three weeks, added Sun.
Sun is one of the few remnants of Alaska's original roster after the departure of Tim Cone and the semi-retirement of manager Joaqui Trillo. Given his more than two decades of loyalty to the Aces, team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu may have acceded that the doctor knows best for his Aces.
In the past, individual players like former MVP Fortunato 'Atoy' Co were known to take Chinese herbal medicine and had even sought therapy through traditional Eastern means for injuries.
But this will perhaps be the first time that a PBA ballclub has turned to Chinese medicine to seek treatment for a group of players.
According to Sun, Thoss, the Finals MVP, has been suffering the most with “recurring back stiffness” that has compounded what had already been a serious clash of bones in his left knee.
Because of this, the Papua New Guinea-born German-Pilipino slotman has had to walk and play with a pronounced limp “because one of his legs is shorter than the other.”
Abueva, Alaska’s workhorse who has probably absorbed the most punishing welcome for any rookie in PBA history, is bothered by “floating bone spurs” and a partial ligament tear on his left knee.
Casio has a “suspected tear in his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)” in one of his knees which Sun said prevents the shin bone from sliding out in front of the thigh bone.
Espinas, a veteran of five other ballclubs since being picked by San Miguel Beer in the 2006 rookie draft, has a nagging back injury that Sun has diagnosed as a “slipped disc, perhaps very much like that of (San Mig Coffee Mix forward) James Yap.”
But while the injuries would have merited a trip to the United States for “conventional surgery,” Sun said Alaska management thought it best to test the recent successes of Chinese medicine which has been enhanced by the advances of Western medical technology.
“Our approach is that the (Chinese) treatment would be the least invasive. There would be no surgery if we could really avoid it,” said Sun.
He noted that the Chinese medical expert the team has tapped, whom he only referred to as Dra. Bai, uses the aids of modern medicine like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to help her in determining which areas the specific traditional Chinese treatments should be applied.
“The MRI shows her where she should apply the proper acupuncture treatment or the other wonders of Chinese medicine that many of us did not know before,” said Sun.
In fact, of the four Aces, Sun said that it would only be Abueva who most likely will have to go under the knife given the gravity of his injury.
“But still, the trip to Beijing may show that another treatment could be available for (Abueva),” Sun said.
According to Sun, the group’s daily regiment would consist of treatment with the medical expert at the hospital “consisting of acupuncture, massage, suction cups and the unique cleansing procedure the Chinese have” in the morning and therapy in the afternoon.
Abueva, Thoss, Casio and Espinas will not even be admitted to the hospital but will remain as out-patients who will be required to undergo the treatment and therapy only during weekdays.
He added the Alaska group will be billeted at an “exclusive full-service apartment which will have a gym where a chiropractor will be on-hand to address their other concerns.”
“Instead of operation, we are going to give them quality time to heal,” Sun maintained.