JUSTIN Chua owed one to Calvin Abueva.
The big man admitted he would have been in big trouble had Abueva not rebounded and scored on the follow-up basket that clinched Phoenix a 93-92 overtime win over Meralco Wednesday night in the main game of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the Fuel Masters trailing by one, Chua missed on a short jumper with seven seconds left in the tightly fought encounter.
Good thing, ‘The Beast’ was there to save the day for the team after grabbing the offensive rebound and scoring on a putback for the game-winner.
“Unang-una nagpapasalamat ako kay Calvin kasi kung hindi niya na-shoot yun, yari ako kay coach,” said a smiling Chua afterwards.
“For me, I feel like I lost that game for the team. So buti na lang nandun talaga si Calvin.”
The thrilling victory also preserved the new career-high of the 6-foot-6 Chua, who finished with a game-high 24 points on top of six rebounds while shooting 9-of-17 from the field.
But Chua said he’s more than happy to see the Fuel Masters win more than registering a new personal best for himself.
“Actually, hindi ko naman naiisip yun. Gusto ko lang talaga Manalo, kasi sayang, lumamang na kami ng malaki, tapos nawala pa,” said the center out of Ateneo.
“Parehong-pareho nung quarterfinals last conference, so at least kami naman yung nanalo ngayon,” added Chua, referring to the do-or-die battle for the last semifinals berth of the Governors Cup last year between the Bolts and the Fuel Masters.
Beside his missed shot in the dying seconds of overtime, Chua also committed a defensive lapse late in regulation when he just watched veteran Ranidel de Ocampo secure the offensive rebound and score on an easy basket to send the game into overtime, 83-all.
Phoenix coach Louie Alas disclosed during the post-game interview Chua heard some words from him and the coaching staff for failing to contest the rebound with De Ocampo.
Chua admitted his defense the entire game left a lot to be desired.
“Ang sama ng depensa ko talaga, talon ako ng talon sa mga fakes, tapos hindi ako buma-boxout,” he said. “Ilang beses na akong sinasabihan ni coach pero parang ang tigas ng ulo ko ngayong game.
“I’ll review the tape and try to be better the next game para hindi na maulit.”