BE it in the NCAA or in the PBA, notching a double-double seems to be just another day at the office for highly-touted rookie Calvin Abueva.
In one of the most anticipated debuts ever by a freshman in the pro league, Abueva didn’t disappoint as he fired 12 points and grabbed 16 rebounds against more established players in a big 88-86 win by Alaska over fancied Petron on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Abueva, a native of Porac, Pampanga selected second overall by the Aces in the last rookie draft, let out a wide a grin but had a hard time finding the right words to describe how his first game as a pro felt.
“Syempre masaya kasi nag-double-double ako,” he said. “Binigay ko lahat ng best ko, alam ko na hindi ako kinulang sa sipag.”
All eyes were on `The Beast’ when he entered the game at the two-minute, 58-second mark of the first quarter and he readily felt at home, not once showing any sign of jitters as he almost immediately buried back-to-back jumpers.
“Hindi ako kinakabahan kasi pinag-handaan ko talaga ito. Mas excited pa nga ako eh kasi PBA na ‘to,” he said.
By the time he finally wrapped up his first game as a pro, the 24-year-old had turned a lot of fans inside the Big Dome, and many more watching on television, into believers.
"What can I say? It’s just nice to have Calvin. He brings so much to our team, energy-wise," said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo. "His energy, nakakahawa talaga.”
No one on the Alaska bench was happier than assistant coach Topex Robinson, Abueva's former coach in college. Robinson said he was sure Abueva will do well in the pro league, but he, too, was surprised at how quickly he was able to make his presence felt.
“I knew from the start that he can do it because he really works hard but what I didn’t expect was ganoon kabilis mangyayari ‘to. He exceeded my expectations, really,” he said.
“It’s like having my son win in his very first PBA game. I couldn’t be happier.”
Robinson, though, was quick to put in a word of caution. “I was telling him that the PBA is way different from the NCAA. I was pushing him to still work harder; I don’t want him to be complacent because I know he can do it if he just makes it happen,” he said.
Abueva has vowed that that the best is yet to come as far as his pro career is concerned.
“Mas lalakas pa si ‘The Beast.’ Mas magiging beast pa. At lalo ko pang sisipagan para sa next game mahihigitan ko pa ang ginawa ko ngayon,” he said.