THE long conference break has affected the play not only of the Alaska Aces, but that of super rookie Calvin Abueva as well.
The undersized power forward admitted the dip in his numbers in the team’s first four games in the season-ending Governors Cup has something to do with the rust from the extended vacation the league had to as it gave way to the country’s hosting of the 27th Fiba-Asia Championship.
“Medyo wala pa talaga sa kundisyon. Normal` yun sa player pag galing sa mahabang bakasyon. Hindi naman tayo superman na peak agad,” explained the 25-year-old pride of Angeles Pampanga.
Abueva logged just 9.67 points in his first two games against Globalport and Rain or Shine, a fary cry from his averages of 13.02 points, 9.63 rebounds, and 1.74 assists during the first two conferences of the season.
The former NCAA MVP had his best game of the conference in the 102-99 win over Ginebra, where he led all Alaska locals with 18 points, but had just nine points on 2-of-9 shooting and five turnovers before fouling out in the Aces' in a 74-84 loss to Meralco on Tuesday night.
“Sa puntos, aminado ako na talagang malas talaga, hindi maka-score. Pero bumawi naman ako sa rebounds at depensa na lang,” said the former San Sebastian star.
“Pero hindi pa rin talaga ako kuntento, kailangan ko talaga mag-peak ng kundisyon,” revealed Abueva, who bared he’s also helping out import Wendell Mckiness adopt to the Aces’ system.
“Kulang pa rin kasi talaga ensayo namin. Maikli pa lang talaga preparasyon namin. Pero eto pansin niyo, habang tumatagal, gumaganda na ang laro namin,” added the Alaska freshman.
Meanwhile, Abueva pointed out the dip in his statistics meant that he’s not primarily after any individual awards, insisting that he's putting more premium on team goals instead of his shot at becoming the league's first rookie MVP in 24 years.
“Team muna talaga kami. We, not me nga, di ba?” he said.
But the controversial cager, managed by popular basketball patron and current Pampanga vice governor Dennis Pineda, said he’d rather win another championship before he sets his sights on his historic shot at winning both the Rookie of the Year and MVP plums.
“Ako naniniwala ako na mas malabo ko makuha `yung mga awards na yun kung magiging conscious ako kunin. Manggigigil lang ako,” he said.
“Ang sa akin, mas malaki tsansa ko makuha `yun kung magcha-champion ulit kami ngayon.”
Asked about his thoughts on Alaska’s chances to win back-to-back championships following its successful title run in the Commissioner’s Cup, Abueva responded: “Oo naman. Sa ngayon maganda ang nilalaro ng team namin. Masyado na kaming mahigpit sa bola. Saka maganda na ang laro naming magkakampi!”
And as for those haters of him, the outspoken rookie shrugged his shoulders and said: “Bahala na sila kahit ano sabihin nila. Basta ako lalaro lang.”