Calvin Abueva, Boyet Fernandez wax nostalgic as PBA holds rare playdate at Arena in San Juan
Calvin Abueva engaged NBA veteran Al Thornton in several physical plays such as this one during his return stint at The Arena in San Juan. Jaime Campos

THE PBA held a rare play date at The Arena in San Juan on a Saturday pitting Alaska and NLEX, although the schedule was nothing new for some players and coaches.

Aces star Calvin Abueva waxed nostalgic as he went back to the playing venue where he started to show basketball fans why he’s called “The Beast” while suiting up for San Sebastian in the NCAA with his boundless energy and athleticism that once made him the league’s MVP.

“Masarap talaga maglaro dito,” Abueva said. “Nung first half pa lang, gigil na ako maglaro.”

The Alaska forward registered just seven boards, six points, and four assists, but the Aces ended up with a 96-95 victory.

NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez also considers ‘The Arena’ memorable after coaching the San Beda Red Lions to two titles in the country’s oldest collegiate league.

The affable mentor, though, was unsuccessful in his return home.

“It’s nice to be back here,” Fernandez said. “But it’s really tough winning here in the PBA, but we’ll continue to improve.”

The game was supposedly to be held in Polomoloc, Cotabato, but the league decided to cancel it due to security concerns as the provincial venue is near Maguindanao where 44 Special Action Force troopers were killed last week in the line of duty.

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