Vic Manuel on Abueva: Malaki pinagdadaanan n'ya, pero nasa likod lang niya kami'
Suspendd forward Calvin Abueva will be a crucial part of the Alaska squas in the playoffs, says Vic Manuel. Marlo Cueto /Jerome Ascano

ALASKA is finding a way to win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup even without its biggest star.

Still, Vic Manuel believes the Aces will still need his ‘brother’ Calvin Abueva if the team is to strongly contend for the mid-season championship.

“Kailangan namin siya sa team,” said the in-form Manuel without batting an eyelash. “Alam naman natin ang capabilities ni Calvin.”

Abueva was meted an indefinite suspension by Alaska management last week following his unexplained absence in team practices and a game shortly after the All-Star weekend.

Manuel said even the Aces have yet to talk to the 30-year-old Abueva, who, according to people close to the enigmatic forward, is dealing with a family problem.

“Malaki ang pinagdadaanan niya, pero kami naman nasa likod lang niya kami. Naghihintay lang kami sa kanya,” said the player known as the ‘Muscle Man.’ “Kung anuman yan, malalampasan niya rin yan.”

Aside from Abueva, Alaska is missing, too, the services of rookie Jeron Teng, out indefinitely after sustaining three stab wounds in his back following an early morning fracas in a BGC parking lot.

Still, the Aces have been posting big wins, claiming the scalp of Globalport and Magnolia since the All-Star Week, thanks in large part to Manuel’s monster games.

Manuel, 30, averaged 28.5 points in the twin victories, including a new league career-high of 35 in a 103-99 victory over the Hotshots.

His heroics helped the Aces preserved their win streak at six (6-1) as they march on to the quarterfinals of an import-laden conference for the first time in two years.

Still, the native of Licab, Nueva Ecija said it would be much better if Alaska would have Abueva around when the playoffs grind begins.

“Sana bago mag-quarterfinals makabalik na siya,” said Manuel.

The veteran forward from PSBA said the players are definitely behind Abueva, but likewise understand management's decision.

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“Wala naman kaming galit sa kanya, suportado namin si Calvin. Pero player lang din naman ako, e. Kung sa akin man gawin yun (suspension), wala akong magagawa. Management (decision) yun, e,” Manuel stressed.

Just like anybody else, Manuel hopes for a happy ending to the impasse and for Alaska to move forward and focus on its title campaign.

“Kung decision na ng management na pabalikin siya, naghihintay lang kami,” he said. “Mahaba pa naman ito.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos