JUST how huge was Alaska rookie Calvin Abueva’s 12-point, 16-rebound PBA debut last Friday in the Aces' 88-86 upset win over Petron Blaze in the Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
If you consider the fact that taller and more prominent guys like Arwind Santos, Jay Washington, Yancy de Ocampo, Rico Maierhofer, Japeth Aguilar, even Eric Menk, or fellow rookies June Mar Fajardo and Cliff Hodge, just to name a few, all were unable to do that in their very first PBA games, then that is really huge.
And if you consider that Abueva was officially measured by the PBA in its preseason biometrics camp for rookies to be only 6-1 1/2, then that all the more makes his feat jaw-dropping.
Sixteen rebounds for a 6-1 1/2 guy in his very first PBA game?
Ok, so the guy had 17 double-doubles and 4 triples-doubles for San Sebastian in their recently concluded season in the NCAA, and led the league in scoring, rebounding and assists - the first player in any major local league to record the feat. But the PBA should be a totally different level, right? Yet Abueva showed last Friday he can see no distinction between the two leagues as far as coming up with those numbers are concerned.
Abueva’s 16 rebounds is likely the most for a rookie in his PBA debut since Asi Taulava had 20 for Mobiline in 1999. But then again, Taulava is 6-9.
@therealantonio5 asked me on Twitter if Abueva is the first rookie to record a double-double right in his very first game in the PBA.
No one probably remembers the most recent rookie to record a double-double in his PBA debut prior to Abueva.
It was actually JR Sena who had 15 points and 12 boards in his first PBA game on October 5 last year when Shopinas.com lost to Powerade 98-87 at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Prior to Sena, players like Rabeh Al-Hussaini (Air21, 2010), Jervy Cruz (Rain or Shine, 2009), Kelly Williams (Sta. Lucia, 2006) and even Eddie Laure (Shell, 2003) also had double-doubles in their PBA debuts.
But the player whom I will compare Abueva’s pro debut has to be that of Egay Echavez in the 2003 All-Filipino Cup with Purefoods.
Echavez is only 5-9 and was snubbed in that year’s annual draft, which had Mike Cortez of Alaska as the No. 1 pick and eventual Rookie of the Year Jimmy Alapag of Talk ‘N Text at No. 10 in the first round.
Then Purefoods head coach Ryan Gregorio surprisingly acquired him late in the elims.
Right in his first pro league game against Talk ‘N Text on May 21, 2003, Echavez had 15 points and 13 rebounds plus three assists and a steal in 31 minutes off the bench. Too bad the TJ Hotdogs lost in overtime, 104-101.
An undrafted 5-foot-9 player getting 13 rebounds in his pro debut in a game that had the likes of Asi Taulava, Harvey Carey, Mark Telan, Noli Locsin, Vic Pablo for Talk ‘N Text and Andy Seigle, Kerby Raymundo, Alvin Patrimonio and Billy Mamaril among his teammates at Purefoods.
Echavez then, Abueva last Friday night. Nuff said.