FOR the first and so far only PBA player to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP awards on the same season, Benjie Paras said it is imperative for Calvin Abueva to lead Alaska deep into the Governors Cup playoffs to have a shot at duplicating the special feat the `Tower of Power’ achieved 24 years ago.
“Meron ding weight kasi kung hindi makaka-semis ang Alaska ngayon,” stressed the retired big man when told the Aces’ backs are against the wall in the season-ending tournament as they face the gargantuan task of beating archrival San Mig Coffee twice in a row to advance to the semis.
Paras admitted he’s been out of the loop as far as developments in the league he once dominated is concerned as most of his time is now devoted to his showbiz career.
But the two-time MVP was quick to give the young Abueva some words of wisdom.
“Basta maglaro lang siya ng maigi. Ituloy lang niya `yung magandang laro niya. One game at a time,” said Paras, who made PBA history when he bagged the Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in the same season back in 1989.
“Sa akin ituloy lang niya `yung nilalaro niya, yung being aggressive and being dominant. Wag siyang titigil dun. Wag iibahin ang laro niya,” he added.
Paras, 44, also advised the Alaska power forward out of San Sebastian not to put too much pressure on himself when it comes to individual awards, pointing out that his focus was on winning games for Formula Shell when he was crowned MVP and top rookie at the same time in 1989.
“That time (before I won the MVP-ROY in 1989), I wasn’t aiming for that. I was aiming for the team to win as many games as we can. Gusto ko nun mag-champion muna,” he recalled.
“Syempre pag hindi ka pressured, chances are makukuha mo (ang gusto mo),” said Paras, voted as one of the 25 Greatest Players in PBA history. “Yes, ang uunahin mo lang talaga is to help the team and play not for yourself.”
Asked if it’s okay for him to share the distinct honor with somebody else, Paras nodded and said, “Why not? Tao lang ako, hindi naman ako robot. Of course may ibang mag-e-excel dyan."
Abueva is currently running second behind Arwind Santos of Petron in the heated race for the MVP title. The Alaska rookie so far has amassed 28.5 statistical points compared to the league-leading 30.3 SPs of Santos.
To maintain his spot in the MVP standings, Paras urged Abueva to give his all and avoid an early vacation for the Aces.
Ironically, Paras and Shell finished dead last during the third and final conference (Reinforced) of the 1989 season after finishing runner-up in the Open Conference and third place in the All-Filipino.