FROM nearly snubbing the event to embracing every minute of it, Calvin Abueva’s decision to attend the 2015 Spin.ph Sportsman of the Year awards night came in the nick of time – for his own good.
Unknown to many, the Alaska star was almost a no-show during the third edition of the yearly affair held Saturday at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay as he is understandably still in a bad mood just a night after the Aces lost to San Miguel Beer, 100-89, in Game Six of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Abueva however, was eventually convinced to come and receive the top award of the night, which brought his hopes back and got him pumped up once again for the deciding game of the best-of-seven series set Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena..
“Talagang lumakas lalo ang loob ko nung nakuha ko ang award na ‘to,” said Abueva, who gamely answered questions from reporters at the end of the two-hour gala. “Parang iniisip ko na ang sarap maglaro ng Game Seven nito.”
“Ang laking kumpiyansa na binigay sa akin nito,” added the Angeles, Pampanga pride, who granted his first media interview since Game Three of the series when the Aces were on the cusp of sweeping the Beermen. “Talagang ibubuhos na namin kung ano yung dapat naming ibuhos pa.”
The award seemed to be a reminder to Abueva.
“Pag nasa loob ka ng court, talagang ang focus mo ay maglaro. Bakit ka nandito sa paglalaro kung hindi ka maglalaro, ‘di ba?” the 27-year-old cager said. “Kaya ang iniisip ko pag nasa court ako, gagawin ko yung best ko, kung paano ma-angat yung team ko, kung paano kami manalo.”
But he also deflected credit to his teammates.
“Hindi naman one player lang ang Alaska,” Abueva said, aware of Alaska’s popular mantra of We Not Me. “Ang maganda sa Alaska is whole kami naglalaro sa loob.”
And the Aces energizer bunny, who had 17 points and nine rebounds in just 24 minutes in Game Six, vowed to bring his and the rest of the Aces’ A-game anew in the do-or-die affair.
“Sabihin man natin na nakatatlong (panalo) sunod sila (SMB), pero itong game na ‘to, dito natin malalaman kung sino ang matibay talaga.”
He realized that the individual award, earlier conferred to former national and PBA coach Chot Reyes (2013) and ex-Gilas skipper and Meralco veteran point guard Jimmy Alapag (2014), was all the motivation he needed to put his focus back on the team goal.
“Hindi na importante ‘tong award na ‘to,” Abueva said. “Ang importante sa akin championship.”