NEW year, new Calvin Abueva?
'The Beast' would like to believe so as he moves to put behind him all of the controversies he found himself in last year and reclaim his place among the league's top players.
He is off to a great start after hitting the game-winning putback with 4.1 seconds left in overtime in Phoenix's thrilling 93-92 victory over Meralco on Wednesday.
The basket, which Abueva got off of a Justin Chua miss down low, allowed the retooled Fuel Masters to start the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup on a high note, coinciding with what the fiery Kapampangan believes is another rebirth for him.
"Di ko rin alam yung nangyari," he admitted with a grin. "In-appease ako ng anak ko. Bad game at bad start ako, pero 'yung last shot siguro yun ang swerte ko."
Abueva missed his first eight shots and five of 10 free throws. He was playing so bad that Phoenix coach Louie Alas kept him on the bench until Jason Perkins fouled out with 1:59 left in regulation.
"The whole game si Calvin actually, understatement na masama yung laro niya. Less than 50 percent yata yung free throws niya, then yung field goal niya ang baba," the outspoken mentor said.
"Pero good thing is yung mga assistant coach ko, sinabihan ako na, 'Coach, pagpa-sensyahan mo. Kailangan mo yan sa dulo.'"
They were right.
As horrid as his offense was, Abueva made sure to still bring the same intensity crashing the boards. He hauled down 13 rebounds, nine from the offensive end, and three coming in the overtime period.
"Nasa isip ko na gawin pa rin yung mga dapat kong gawin. Kung anong maitulong ko sa team, yun ang ginawa ko, which is rebounds at pag-depensa. Malas ako sa field goals, pero nung overtime na, parang lumakas na ang loob ko. Yung mga nagawa ko, offensive rebounds, nakatulong sa akin," he said.
The shots eventually fell.
Abueva's two baskets both came in extra time. The first broke the ice and put the Fuel Masters up, 85-83; the other won it for the Fuel Masters against a Meralco side that ousted them in the Governors Cup quarterfinals last season.
Abueva sees the win as a reboot button.
"Tapos na yun. Dito naman yung panimula sa panibagong buhay at syempre, sa mga anak ko," he said.