Calvin Abueva struggles offensively, but hurts Meralco in many other ways
Alaska's Calvin Abueva makes a gesture as he passes by the Meralco bench. Jaime Campos

CALVIN Abueva felt he was struggling on offense in the second half of Alaska's game against Meralco on Wednesday night.

So he decided to do the next best thing - focus on defense and deliver the intangibles.

The effort bore fruit as Abueva and the rest of the Aces completed a stunning 81-79 win over the Bolts in the most impressive comeback yet in the PBA Philippine Cup.

Abueva finished with nine points, but was held scoreless in the second half of a game which appeared to be in the bag for the Bolts after they led by nine, 77-68, with a little over two minutes left.

But Abueva willed the Aces back with his defense and scrappy plays. His block off a Joseph Yeo drive set up RJ Jazul for a three-pointer from the corner to cap a 10-0 run that gave Alaska the lead, 78-77.

"Hindi ko makuha yung scoring ko nung second half kaya ang mindset ko nilagay ko na lang sa depensa," 'The Beast,' who had many highly physical battles with Cliff Hodge, said.

[SeeĀ Alaska stuns Meralco with a comeback capped by Banchero three-pointer]

Abueva was 3 of 10 from the field but made up for the spotty shooting by contributing seven rebounds, five assists and two block shots.

He was quick to deflect the credit, saying it was all team effort.

"Hindi lang din naman ako kundi kaming lahat. Sa kaunting ginawa ko na-improve naman yung mga teammates ko at dun gumanda ang rotation namin," Abueva added.

After rookie Jonathan Grey scored on him on a drive to give the lead back to Meralco, 79-78, Abueva thought the Alaska rally would fall short.

"Akala ko sa kanila na e," he said.

But the Aces had one last act left on the tank as Abueva set up Chris Banchero for another corner three for an 81-79 Alaska lead with four seconds to go.

Alaska is now back to .500 at 2-2 but Abueva said there is no time to relax for the Aces, who are playing 'small ball' in the absence of Sonny Thoss and Noy Baclao.

"Hindi pa kami kuntento dito. More improvement pa sa coming games namin," he said of the Aces, who are set to meet Barangay Ginebra and TNT Katropa next.

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