Hobbled Abueva admits Orlando Johnson tough to guard: 'Magaling eh, talagang import. Local lang tayo'
Calvin Abueva rides the bench after aggravating a sprained ankle. Jaime Campos

AS he made his way out of the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Friday night, Calvin Abueva smiled as PBA courtside reporter Sel Guevara complimented his new look.

The Alaska star may have been hurting inside, but at least he looked good outside.

Abueva, sporting cornrows, confirmed he was nursing a sprained ankle that hobbled him in the Aces’ 108-99 win over Barangay Ginebra in the Governors’ Cup.

The energetic forward, taking turns with teammate Rome dela Rosa, looked a step slow as he defended Gin Kings import Orlando Johnson, who went on to erupt for 50 points.

[See Prolific Johnson provides a silver lining for Ginebra after opening loss]

After committing a foul that led to a Johnson three-point play and cut the Alaska lead to just three, and another turnover halfway through the third period, Abueva rode the bench, never to return.

Still, the 2013 Rookie of the Year managed to contribute in other ways as he put up nine points on 3-of-9 shooting, five boards, and one steal, against three turnovers in 15 minutes.

“Kahapon pa ‘to (injury sa practice), sumakit lang ulit kanina kaya hindi na ako nakabalik,” Abueva said, admitting he had a tough time guarding Johnson.

“Magaling eh, talagang import. Local lang tayo, ‘di ba?” the 6-foot-2 Pampanga native said.

“Pinakita ko naman yung best ko eh para mabantayan siya, kaso lang napasama kanina, kaya okay lang, good game,” he was quick to add.

Good thing he had the last laugh.

“At least panalo kami.”

Not to mention the nod of people for his new hairstyle.

“Nagpapahaba ako. New style naman,” the 27-year-old cager said. “Matagal ko na gusto gawin ‘to eh, kaso hindi ko magawa-gawa kasi marami pang iniisip.”

“Ngayon nagawa ko na, pero pinapahaba ko pa para mas lalong gumanda,” added Abueva, who said he will know by Monday how serious his injury is.

[See Alaska rides steady Travis to turn back audacious stand by Ginebra]

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos