Abueva switches to No. 88 to put behind him 'very sad moment for my family'
Feeling reborn, Calvin Abueva is all smiles during the game. Marlo Cueto

THE ‘Beast’ is reborn.

Calvin Abueva looked rejuvenated on Wednesday night upon his return to the Alaska lineup as his dynamic play led the Aces to a rousing 93-75 rout of Phoenix in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Abueva showed up wearing a new jersey number (No. 88), which he attributed to a new beginning after what he went through in a troubled three weeks where he skipped practices of both Alaska and Gilas Pilipinas.  

The switch from his original No. 8 jersey seemed to have worked wonders as he posted an impressive double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds just four days after getting permission to skip the team’s 88-84 win over Blackwater amid persistent rumors of his impending separation from his wife.

He later billed himself as ‘The Beast 2.0.’

“Hindi naman naalis yung number eight,” he said of his new jersey number. “The past three weeks, sobrang lungkot ko sa nangyari sa family ko kaya pinalitan ko yung number ko.”

“Kaya ‘The Beast 2.0.’ Pinaninindigan ko sa sarili ko na kaya ko itong lusutan.”

Abueva, 29, also rejoined Gilas in its practice on Monday at the Meralco gym, vowing to help the team prepare for the second window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers despite being officially dropped by coach Chot Reyes from the pool for games against Australia and Japan.

The former NCAA MVP from San Sebastian said he hopes to be able to sustain his inspired showing the rest of the conference as he looks to make it back to the finals and eventually, win the championship.  

“Sana magtuluy-tuloy itong nilalaro ko at itong pagkabalik ko para makapasok kami sa finals at makuha namin itong championship,” he said.

The return of Abueva helped the Aces remain unbeaten in five games this year as they continue to rise in the standings at 5-2, a full game behind co-leaders Magnolia and defending champion San Miguel.

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And the surge could go on especially with Abueva fully motivated.

“Nakuha ko yung motivation ko kung ano yung pinaghirapan ko the last three weeks,” said the Alaska star, who admitted badly missing his four kids.

“Nabuhay ako sa sarili ko na maging masaya. Masayang-masaya ako ngayon.”

“Kinuha ko itong No. 88 para ang 2018 the best part of my life,” he continued before adding, “Kahit hindi na sa love life.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos