Bulked-up Calvin Abueva swears he hasn't lost speed ahead of season debut
Alaska got three-and-a-half weeks of break in the offseason, but Calvin Abueva says he used most of the break to prepare for the new season. Jaime Campos

CALVIN Abueva is probably the first in minutes played in the PBA over the last two years, yet he’s the last one to ask for a day off.

Alaska has played in more games than any other team in the last two years – where they reached the finals in four of six conferences.

And what more for Abueva, who, like Jayson Castro, has played virtually nonstop the same span after also spending time with Gilas Pilipinas.

But Abueva and the rest of the Aces were finally rewarded of a longer vacation than usual in this offseason after getting eliminated after just the quarterfinals of the last Governors’ Cup.

“We definitely didn’t do that (get eliminated early) on purpose,” Aces coach Alex Compton said after practice on Thursday. “We thought we had a chance of winning it, but letting the guys have three-and-a-half weeks off was great.”

“I think since I’ve been the coach, that’s been the longest break we’ve had in two years,” he added.

And no one deserved it more than Abueva, yet he still chose to do more work than rest this offseason in preparation for his fifth year in the league.

“May pahinga, pero may hirap rin na ginagawa, may strengthening,” the 28-year-old cager said in a short chat with SPIN.ph after practice. “Hindi rin madali sa player na magpahinga ka ng matagal eh. Ma-stuck yung katawan mo, kaya right now, nagppupursigi ka.”

Rest is for the weak, they say.

And after all, Abueva is eager to capture the Holy Grail of Philippine basketball as the Aces open their Philippine Cup campaign on Friday night against NLEX at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

“Ito yung pinakamagandang motivation sa atin kasi walang import, walang inaasahan, talagang kayu-kayo talaga,” the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup Best Player said.


“Dito mo masusukat kung gaano ka ka-kumpiyansa sa sarili mo,” he added. “Ibibigay mo talaga dito eh kasi wala kang inaasahan na kung sino.”

[See Abueva bulks up to 209 lbs of muscle as he gets ready to rumble]

Abueva earlier bared he has packed more muscle ahead of another banging with the league’s giants, but he also worked on his speed.

“Nagpabigat, pero sa all Filipino, kailangan mo rin ng bilis dito tsaka ng laki, kaya ginawa ko yun,” the 6-foot-1 ½ forward said.

Abueva and the Aces get their first test agaist the Road Warriors, who now have coach Yeng Guiao at the helm.

“Bagong roles na sila, may mga bagong players,” Abueva said. “Hindi rin natin masaabi kung ano ang gagawin nila sa amin.”

“Siguro mas tumindi yung kumpiyansa nila dahil si coach Yeng,” he added. “Iba rin magbigay ng kumpiyansa si coach Yeng sa mga player niya.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos